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Coastwatch Staff: 
Kathy Hart, Managing Editor 
Jeannie Fans and Carla B. Burgess, 

Staff Writers and Editors 
L. Noble, Designer 
Debra Lynch, Circulation Manager 

The University of North Carolina Sea 
Grant College Program is a federal/state 
program that promotes the wise use of 
our coastal and marine resources 
through research, extension and 
education. It joined the National Sea 
Grant College Network in 1970 as an 
institutional program. Six years later, it 
was designated a Sea Grant College. 
Today, UNC Sea Grant supports 
several research projects, a 12-member 
extension program and three communi- 
cators. B.J. Copeland is director. The 
program is funded by the U.S. Depart- 
ment of Commerce's National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration and 
the state through the University of 
North Carolina. 

Change of address, subscription 
information or editorial correspon- 
dence: Coastwatch, UNC Sea Grant, 
Box 8605, N.C. State University, 
Raleigh, NC 27695. Telephone: 919/ 
515-2454. Fax: 919/515-7095. Please 
use the subscriber number that appears 
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Coastwatch is published six times a 
year. A year's subscription is $12. 

Postmaster: Send address changes to 
Coastwatch, UNC Sea Grant, Box 
8605, N.C. State University, Raleigh, 
NC 27695. 

Front cover photo of fisherman 
icing winter flounder catch by 
Michael Halminski. 

Inside front cover photo of big catch 
of the day by Scott D. Taylor. 

Printed on recycled paper 
by Highland Press Inc. in 
Fayetteville,N.C. m + 

f r o m the top 

Dear Readers: 

Commercial fishing. It's a way of life in small North 
Carolina communities such as Stumpy Point, Hobucken, 
Salter Path, Sneads Ferry and Vamumtown. For decades 
that way of life went unchanged. 

But times are different. 

What was once a simple matter of catching a few fish is 
now much more complicated. Watermen must purchase 
expensive gear, study mountains of regulatory information 
and lobby policymakers for more say in the rules that 
govern their livelihoods. 

No doubt bureaucracy has changed the industry. 
Regulations are rampant, but resource managers feel a need 
to protect fish populations that are dwindling because of 
overharvesting, pollution and habitat degradation. 

Fishermen, however, think there is too much govern- 
ment interference. They long for the days when they could 
call the oceans and sounds their own. 

Carla Burgess outlines the problems and complexities 
facing today's commercial fishing industry. She talks to 
federal and state fisheries managers, policymakers and 

representatives from commercial fishing organizations. 

I talk with Sea Grant scientists who are looking at 
innovative ways to address the problems. Sea Grant's 
social and economic research may give resource managers 
more to think about than just biological statistics when it 
comes to forming regulations. 

For the fishermen's side of the story, Jeannie Faris 
interviews four Tar Heel watermen whose family histories 
are steeped in saltwater and seafood. They relate their 
frustrations, possible solutions and hopes for the future. 

I hope that you enjoy the issue and learn more about 
the unique people who call themselves commercial 

During February, some of you will receive a survey for 
evaluating Coastwatch. We want to know what you like 
and don't like and how you rate our efforts thus far. Please 
take a few minutes to honestly answer our questions. Your 
responses and opinions are important to us and will help 
shape future issues. 

Until next issue, 

Kathy Hart 

In t h i 

s issue 

Page 3 

Understanding the Rigors of Commercial Fishing ... 2 


Numbers Critical to Decision-Making ... 8 


Factoring Fishermen Into Fisheries Management ... 10 CLEARINGHOUSE 

Are Fishermen Nearing Their Last Cast? ... 15 

Marine Advice 
Specialist Focuses on Seafood Safety ... 20 

Field Notes 
Pollution and Seafood ... 21 

The Aft Deck ... 22 

Back Talk . . . 25 

MAR 24 1993 


Page 16 




By Carla B. Burgess 

North Carolina watermen have 
always been mavericks. Sure, they 
share stories with each other about life 
on the water, a new piece of gear that 
has worked well, what's biting and 
what's not. 

But for the most part, they've been 
fiercely independent, solving their own 
problems their own way. They've 
chosen where to go, what to fish for, 
how to catch it and when to call it a 
day. Hard work was the key to a good 
living; bad weather or bad luck was the 
enemy apparent. 

During the past two decades, 
however, North Carolina's commercial 
fishermen have begun to see their grasp 
on this age-old profession weakening. 
New pressures have surfaced, and new 
foes are staking their claim on the 
ocean frontier. Some of these perceived 
opponents have flesh-and-blood 
personas — environmentalists, devel- 
opers, sportfishermen. But many of the 
enemies are faceless — declining water 
quality, ebbing ecology and a bureau- 
cracy that many fishermen neither 
understand nor want to understand. 

Day after day, commercial fisher- 
men feel they are being sucked into a 
quagmire of regulations invented by a 
government they perceive as unfeeling 
and uncaring. And they don't really 
know how to participate in the regula- 
tory system that shapes their very 

For each hour at sea hauling in 
shrimp, flounder and mackerel, 
fishermen spend another two or more 
doing paperwork — filling out permit 
applications, making sure their vessels 
meet current safety codes, filing 
reports, staying abreast of proposed 
policy changes and trying to get their 
two cents worth into the management 

"The fisherman is faced with a 
wide variety of regulations coming 
from a number of different sources, and 
it's almost impossible to keep up with 


all the changes that are going on," says 
Bill Foster, a Hatteras fisherman and a 
member of the N.C. Marine Fisheries 
Commission. The commission sets the 
policies that are implemented by the 
state's Division of Marine Fisheries. 

"It's not uncommon for fishermen 
here to fish for 10 to 15 different 
species," says Foster. "The biggest 
problem I have is the volume of 
regulations and trying to adjust the 
fishing to them. For instance, in the 
ocean there are different regulations 
for bottom fishing, mackerel fishing 
and trolling. You almost have to 
decide what fish you're going to fish 
for before you go into the ocean. If 
you've got gear for one fishery, then 
you're illegal in another. Going into 
the ocean now, it is almost impossible 
not to be in violation of something." 

Fishermen in North Carolina 
harvest more than 90 marketable 
species of fish using the largest variety 
of gear allowed nationwide. The 
state's inshore fishing grounds are the 
third largest in the nation — harboring 
2.3 million acres of estuarine waters. 

As managers try to get a tighter 
regulatory handle on a multitude of 
fisheries, Tar Heel watermen are 
feeling the squeeze that neighboring 
states have experienced for years. 

"We in North Carolina have 
traditionally had minimal regulations, 
but it doesn't look that way to the 
fishermen," says Michael Orbach, a 
Sea Grant scientist, a professor of 
anthropology at East Carolina Univer- 
sity and a member of the Marine 
Fisheries Commission. "We've been 
blessed by being out of sight, out of 
mind for a long time." 

Recreational fishermen and 
environmental groups, who often view 
fisheries as underregulated with regard 
to conservation, says Orbach, have 
demanded and are receiving more 

"Clearly what's happening is all 
the constituencies are more orga- 

nized," says Orbach. 

Except, it seems, commercial 

"I think the independent nature of 
fishermen is such that they don't want 
to belong to any group," says Jerry 
Schill, executive director of the N.C. 
Fisheries Association. 

Lack of common ground is another 
possible cause of disunity. A shrimper 
and a snapper/grouper fisherman have 
interests as divergent as a tobacco 
farmer and a peach grower, says Jim 

Murray, UNC Sea Grant's Marine 
Advisory Service director. And even 
within a given fishery, says Schill, 
there are factions, such as clammers 
who harvest with machinery — "clam 
kicking" — vs. those who extract the 
bivalves with hand-held rakes. 

Compounding this lack of organi- 
zation is a Grand Canyon-sized rift of 
communication between the commer- 
cial fishing community and the 
agencies that regulate it. Both sides are 



talking at one another instead of with 
each other, especially with regard to 
federal regulations. 

Fishermen feel that their opinions 
can barely be heard over the ruckus 
of managers putting forth yet another 
restriction. Watermen have learned to 
expect a knee-jerk reaction from 
Washington. And once the federal 
government has ordained a solution, 
commercial fishermen feel like it's 
written in stone. 

"We have become so that there's 
no contact between National Marine 
Fisheries Service and fishermen," 
says Melvin Shepard, president of the 
Southeastern North Carolina Water- 
man's Association. "In order to have 
any influence at all, we have to go to 
our representatives (in Congress)." 

But the relationship between 
those who make their livings at sea 
and the people charged with manag- 

ing their livelihoods has not always 
been so polar. 

The marriage between commercial 
fishermen and the federal government 
required no shotgun wedding — 
fishermen were willing partners at the 
onset. In fact, when foreign fishing 
fleets began collecting the United 
States' offshore bounty of seafood, 
commercial fishermen courted 
intervention from Uncle Sam. 

In the middle of this century, the 
world's landings of fish were sky- 
rocketing, while U.S. landings crept 
slowly by comparison. To make 
matters worse, America's voracious 
appetite for seafood was being fed by 
hauls of imported fish caught just off 
U.S. shores. 

This monolithic foreign fishery 
was also extremely agile — well- 
equipped to exploit our resource and 
then move on to more fertile fishing 

fields. In the 1970s, U.S. fishermen 
asked for help and a Congressional 
debate was set in motion. At this time, 
scientists deemed at least 16 offshore 
species overfished. In 1976, the Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act 
was enacted. 

The Magnuson Act, as it is also 
called, extended U.S. fishery manage- 
ment jurisdiction to 200 nautical miles 
offshore and established eight regional 
management councils charged with 
managing fisheries within this zone. 
Prior to its passage, the states had the 
only real comprehensive management 

The National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NMFS), under the U.S. 
Department of Commerce and the 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA), was charged 
with administering the act and its 

As more and more Americans have 
turned to the ocean and estuaries to 
make their living — aided by highly 
efficient gear and technology — the 
impact of federal management has 
trickled down. Its mission is still to 
protect and conserve the resource, but 
now the restrictions are starting to hit 

"You have fishermen now who 
consider National Marine Fisheries 
(Service), the Secretary of Commerce 
and NOAA to be (their) bloody 
enemies," says Shepard. 

It doesn't help matters that fisher- 
men often fail to distinguish the 
government agencies that manage 
fisheries and the various sources of 
regulations. The furor over sea turtles, 
the Endangered Species Act and turtle 
excluder devices (TEDs) illuminates 
this confusion. 

"Fishermen do not understand the 
character of the Endangered Species 
Act or the Marine Mammal Protection 
Act," says Orbach. "Both say you can't 
even take them (protected species) at 
all. You can't even make them ner- 


vous. Literally, you can get a federal 
citation for coming too close to a 
whale with a boat." 

But commercial fishermen often 
think that if they are careful not to 
capture too many sea turtles, then 
they have fulfilled the requirement of 
the law. 

"So you tend to see a lot of 
resistance, for example, in our trawl 
flounder fishery in North Carolina 
when turtles start showing up dead on 
the beaches during flounder season," 
says Orbach. "It may be that the trawl 
fishery is not causing those deaths; we 
really don't have a good system for 
autopsying turtles and marine mam- 
mals. Rather than trying to develop 
gear that will allow the release of 
turtles ... they say, 'We shouldn't have 
to do this at all. We aren't the big 
problem with turtles. It's coastal 
development and RVs running over 
turtle nests; that's the problem.' 

"The point is, no matter how small 
a part of the problem you are with 
marine mammals and endangered 
species, you're a problem," Orbach 

TEDs have been less than popular 
among commercial fishermen. 
Shrimpers claim that the device not 
only releases turtles but a big percent- 
age of their catch. And in the summer 
flounder fishery, the gear clogs with 
sea grasses, and the whole of their 
catch gets lost. In some areas, limited 
tow times have been approved by 
NMFS as an alternative to TEDs, the 
theory being that any captured turtle 
could survive a brief entrapment in 
the net. 

Despicable as they seem, require- 
ments such as TEDs and limited tow 
times are the very vehicle through 
which fishermen are allowed to trawl 
at all. And they are not an invention by 
NMFS to torture fishermen, say 
federal officials. The Endangered 
Species Act takes precedence over the 
Magnuson Act. 

"The law is doggone tough; we 
don't really have a choice," says 
Andrew Kemmerer, director of 
NMFS's Southeast region. "There are 
solutions like TEDs that prevent us 
from having to close the fishery." 

But fishermen are perched perpetu- 
ally on the defensive. 

"Fishermen get their backs up any 
time NMFS even mentions anything," 
says Shepard. "They will be put in an 
adversarial relationship, and they know 
in their minds that this federal regula- 
tion is going to happen." 

Watermen often don't know about 
a new regulation until it has been 
implemented, and the appeal process is 
painstaking, time-consuming and often 

"The main problem that I see is that 
there is a lack of communication 
between fishermen and the various 
agencies at the very early stages of 
regulation," says Foster. 

A recent regulation spawned by 

Florida recreational fishermen is a 
prime example, says Shepard. The 
dispute among Florida fishing interests 
over the use of pots in the snapper/ 
grouper fishery resounded to Tar Heel 
shores when a regulation prohibiting 
the traps was adopted by the South 
Atlantic Fishery Management Council 
(SAFMC). The council governs the 
region from Key West, Fla., to the 
North Carolina/Virginia border. Based 
on research conducted by NMFS, the 
council develops management plans for 
species that migrate between state 

"There had been a move over a 
period of time to prohibit the use of fish 
traps in federal waters offshore," says 
SAFMC Executive Director Bob 
Mahood, adding that the council voted 
to prohibit the traps. "In doing so, the 
council knew that there was an exten- 
sive sea bass pot fishery off North 
Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. 



Digging with tongs for clams. 

When they wrote the plan, it was 
written in such a way that allowed 
black sea bass pot fishing to continue." 

But, says Mahood, fishermen 
could no longer possess fish pots on 
board if they were fishing for snapper/ 
grouper species with hook and line or 
hydraulic lines. 

And, says Shepard, "if you went to 
a black sea bass pot with anything 
other than sea bass in it, you had to 
throw 'em away." In the past, the odd 
marketable species caught in a bass 
pot could help you meet your fuel 
expenses for that trip, says Shepard. 

Shepard and two other fishermen 
made a trip to Key West to appeal the 
regulation, and upon review, the 
council agreed one vote short of 
unanimous to recommend an emer- 
gency rule correcting the problem. The 
dissenting vote came from the NMFS 
representative on the council. Shepard 
says the NMFS representative is 
instructed never to vote in favor of an 

Scott D. Taylor 

emergency rule because a unanimous 
vote by the council would oblige the 
Secretary of Commerce to approve it. 
Even though this particular rule was 
ultimately approved by the secretary, 
this policy often makes NMFS the odd 
man out, says Shepard. 

Bill Hogarth, who heads the state's 
Division of Marine Fisheries, says this 
kind of politics doesn't help the 
already tenuous relationship between 
watermen and Washington. 

"It makes you look sort of stupid 
as far as they (fishermen) are con- 
cerned," says Hogarth. "I think it's 
extremely difficult to get the national 
office to back off once they've made a 

At the state level, he says, "it's a 
lot easier to manipulate a problem 
politically by just screaming and 
hollering at us." 

Even though the trip resulted in a 
victory for Shepard, he says it cost him 
and his companions close to $5,000 in 

time and traveling expenses to correct a 
management mistake they think should 
never have happened. 

And though he says the fish pot 
dispute was not an issue of the greatest 
magnitude, it stands out as a particu- 
larly telling example of how govern- 
ment ignores what would be valuable 
feedback from the fishing community. 
If the real issue was limiting the 
number of large, spawning-size 
snapper/grouper species caught, says 
Shepard, then redesigning pots to 
exclude fish of that size would have 
been a more logical solution — not 
banning pots and continuing to allow 
fishermen to angle for their catch. 

"A hook doesn't know what size 
fish bites it," says Shepard. 

But in Mahood 's opinion, the 
convincing arguments presented by 
Shepard and his colleagues was a 
perfect example of fishermen learning 
to use the system to meet their needs. 
He says the appeal was well-argued 
and that the three coordinated their 
testimony so that they weren't all 
saying the same thing. 

"They did a sales job," he says, and 
the effort paid off. "North Carolina 
fishermen have become very sophisti- 

There's not a lengthy sign-up sheet 
of fishermen wanting to learn the rules 
of this political game. But Schill has 
issued the call. 

"The commercial industry is 
overregulated, and there's a lot of 
justification for them (fishermen) to be 
upset," he says. "But you just can't 
keep going to meetings saying you're 
the redheaded stepchild. You've got to 
start participating in the process, 
whether you like it or not." 

The oldest trade group in the state 
and one of the oldest in the nation, the 
N.C. Fisheries Association is entering 
its 41st year of representing the 
interests of commercial fish dealers and 
fishermen. The Southeastern North 
Carolina Waterman's Association has 


been in existence about as long. 
Though there have been other promis- 
ing starts of fishing groups and 
associations, the follow-through rate 
has been dismal, Schill says. 

"When you get into this kind of 
mess, you have to be in it for the long 
haul because the opposition is in it for 
the long run," says Schill. "It amazes 
me how when they (fishermen) get 
into politics, they give up. There is 
little to be hoped for in terms of the 
industry trying to save itself if they 
don't start tackling the government 
like they do Mother Nature. 

"They say, 'I'm sick of this 
because there's politics in fisheries 
management,'" says Schill. "There's 
politics in education; there shouldn't 
be, but there is. There's politics in 
every aspect of our life. 

"Commercial fishing is the last true 
bastion of free enterprise in our life," 
he says. "Commercial fishermen will 
either learn to play the political game, 
or support those who are playing the 
political game for them, or they will 
see their demise." 

Fishermen must learn to fight back 
and learn whom to fight. 

"The agencies, by their very nature, 
assume that everybody out here knows 
their area of authority," says Schill, 
adding that the sea turtle situation is a 
prime example of misdirected anger. 
"The bureaucrats did not pass the 
Endangered Species Act. We spend 
probably too much time beating on 

People who make policy would 
also benefit from unity among fisher- 

"We want the fishermen to be 
organized so they can tell us in one 
voice what they want to see in the 
fishery," says Mahood. 

But managers want to hear a 
credible voice, not angry threats and 
insults hurled their way at public 

Fishery managers, too, would 

benefit from a study in semantics; 
their careless comments breed as 
much contempt. After all, poor 
communication is a two-way street. 

"I personally feel that NMFS does 
not know how to deal with people," 
says Shepard, adding that he's heard 
managers voice their intent to elimi- 
nate a specific percentage of fisher- 
men with more stringent regulations. 
Such statements evoke the image of 
the college professor who announces 
the first day of class that half the 
students will eventually flunk. 

As North Carolina's commercial 
fishing community begins to feel the 
pinch of gear limitations, catch quotas 
and other restrictions, they will need 
to know who's who. 

"Fishermen, particularly North 
Carolina fishermen, are just now 
being impacted by regulations," says 
Kemmerer. "This is forcing them to 
get involved and start to understand 

where we're coming from." 

Both Shepard and Schill see a 
glimmer of hope in fishing associa- 
tion auxiliaries, in which families of 
fishermen become involved in the 
regulatory process. Another promis- 
ing startup is an association of the 
state's crab-potters, formed to 
address the problem of space 

Shepard is also hoping for 
improvements to the Magnuson Act, 
scheduled for reauthorization this 
year. If fishermen could achieve a 
swifter avenue of appeal for federal 
regulations, for instance a hearing 
within 30 days, he says, "you'd see a 
great change." M 

Ocean and Coastal Law, written by 
Richard G. Hildreth and Ralph W. 
Johnson, was a helpful source in 
outlining the history of the 
Magnuson Act. 



Michael Halminski 

By Carla B. Burgess 

How can you make decisions 
about protecting and conserving a 
fishery when you have little informa- 
tion to base them on? 

Fishery managers and watermen 
encounter this dilemma daily. 

"One of the most severe limita- 
tions that everybody runs up against 
in fisheries and environmental 
management is lack of good data and 
information," says Michael Orbach, 
a Sea Grant scientist, a professor of 
anthropology at East Carolina 
University and a member of the N.C. 
Marine Fisheries Commission. "We 
really don't know how many 
fishermen are applying how much 
effort out there to get the stocks. We 
don't even know how much is being 

In North Carolina, reporting of 
the recreational and commercial 
catch is voluntary, and the annual 
statistics stem from a lot of sampling, 
scientific surveying and estimating. 

"We've had fishermen say, 'I've 
had more oysters in my house than 
you reported for the entire state,'" 
says Bill Hogarth, director of North 
Carolina's Division of Marine 

And neither recreational nor 
commercial fishermen are licensed 
— a commercial fishing license 
applies to the vessel, not the fisher- 
man. So numbers don't accurately 
reflect the numbers of people fishing 
on a given vessel. 

On the license application, 
fishermen describe their activity as 
full-time commercial, part-time 
commercial or recreational (listed as 
"pleasure"). Of 19,714 vessels 
licensed for 1991, 9,306 were in the 
pleasure category, 5,016 described 
their efforts as full-time commercial 
and 5,392 listed their efforts as part- 
time commercial, says Mike Street, 
the division's research section chief. 

Though almost half of the 
applicants describe themselves as 
recreational fishermen, many of 
these anglers sell their catch. 

A deficit of comprehensive data 
about fishing efforts and landings 
often leaves regulatory agencies in 
the dark. And charged with using the 
"best available data" on which to 
base decisions, regulatory agencies 
are often forced to impose regula- 
tions that can cut deeply. 

"What the council has to look out 
for mainly is the health of the 

resource long-term," says Bob 
Mahood, director of the South Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council, which 
develops management plans for the 
region stretching from the North 
Carolina/Virginia border south to Key 
West, Fla. "Any time you severely 
restrict, you're going to impact people. 

"The council has to make a 
number of decisions with very shaky 
or absent information in many cases," 
says Mahood. "If you don't have the 
information, you have to take the most 
conservative direction." 

And the executive director of the 
N.C. Fisheries Association says the 
results can be devastating. 

"We're getting more regulations, 
and things are getting worse," says 
Jerry Schill. "Maybe we should try the 

Schill and others representing 
commercial interests say fishermen 
themselves are often in the best 
position to assess problems in a 
fishery, such as reduced catch. But 
they often feel if they point out a 
decline, restrictions will ensue imme- 

"The way we manage fisheries 
now is crisis management, and we go 
at it with the attitude that it's going to 


be the end of the world if we don't do 
something right now, even if it's 
wrong," says Bill Foster, a commer- 
cial fisherman from Hatteras and a 
member of the N.C. Marine Fisheries 
Commission. "Typically, we do not 
have the data that will let us say 
whether fishing is the real problem 
instead of just natural cycles and 
natural mortality." 

Not only are fishermen distrustful 
of government data, they are also 
reluctant to comment on changes they 
notice on the water for fear of rash 
reaction by managers. 

sharpen the numbers on actual 
landings of fish. Under its provisions, 
fishermen who sell their catch would 
be required to present a card — 
similar in appearance to a credit card 
— to the buyer prior to each sale. A 
similar system has been successful in 

"If the license to sell is enacted 
with a requirement to provide data on 
a per catch basis, it will help tremen- 
dously with the quality of the data," 
says Street. 

And it may even help fishermen, 
says Schill, if the bill is structured so 

mackerel. In quota fisheries, resource 
managers place caps on the total 
allowable catch of a given species. 

"Let's say I'm a recreational 
fisherman, but as soon as I sell that 
king mackerel, it counts against the 
commercial man's quota," he says. 
And once that commercial quota is 
filled, says Schill, "the guy who 
really depends on making his living 
off the water can no longer sell king 

Another possible boon to more 
accurate data collection could be a 
saltwater sportfishing license, which 

A waterman gillnetsfor his catch. 

"Quite often, the interest will be 
raised in a fishery when a population 
is in a decline for whatever cause," 
says Foster. "The next thing that 
happens is restrictions are put into 

"The hardest part is trying to 
separate out what is the real problem, 
to separate perception from problems 
and the rationalizations people use to 
support their view," says Foster. 

A "license to sell" bill, scheduled 
to be introduced in the N.C. General 
Assembly this year, could help 

that the privilege to sell certain species 
is limited to those fishermen who need 
it to sustain their livelihood. 

"The way the Florida system is set 
up is that you have to derive 25 
percent of your income from commer- 
cial fishing or $5,000 a year," says 
Schill, adding that he approves of 
similar qualifications for North 

Otherwise, he says, commercial 
fishermen could be hurt by recre- 
ational fishermen who sell their catch 
from a quota fishery, such as king 

Scon D. Taylor 

has been proposed. Coastal recre- 
ational anglers in North Carolina are 
not currently required to purchase a 
license to fish unless they are using 
commercial gear, says Street. 

The idea of a recreational fishing 
license does not appeal to many 
tourism officials and to some in the 
commercial fishing community, 
many of whom also fish recreation- 
ally. But Street says the information 
from such licenses could provide 
another valuable contribution to 
fishing statistics. □ 




Michael Halminski 

By Kathy Hart 

Let's face it, the term fisheries 
management is a misnomer. Try as 
you might, there is no way to tell a 
fish what to do. 

Scientists can count the fish, 
learn their biology, study their habits 
and track their travels. But forget 
explaining to a flounder or clam 
about seasons, territories, quotas, 
size limits and net mesh sizes. 

Instead, saltwater fishery re- 
source managers are left with a 
tougher job: managing people. 

And tough might be an under- 
statement for describing the monu- 
mental task of managing hundreds of 
fishermen involved in dozens of 

fisheries using gear that ranges from 
a simple rake for gathering clams to 
sophisticated, multitrawl nets used 
by big commercial rigs to catch 
ocean species. 

And that's just the commercial 

Resource managers must also 
consider saltwater anglers, who are 
every bit as diverse as their commer- 
cial counterparts. The angler who 
casts a line from the beach for spot is 
just as much a recreational fisherman 
as the sportsman who travels miles 
offshore to catch the big game fish. 

So how do resource managers 
make decisions? 

In the past, their decisions have 

been based largely on biological and 
resource data. And Sea Grant 
scientists have readily supplied a 
bounty of scientific data for them to 
draw upon. 

But the decisions are getting 
harder to make. 

Many fish and shellfish stocks 
are dwindling, either because of 
overfishing, habitat degradation or 
water quality problems. As a conse- 
quence, competition is heated as 
fishermen strive to fill their nets and 
their coolers with the catch of the 

Fishery managers are faced with 
parceling out today's catch while 
conserving for tomorrow's. At the 


same time, they must strike a balance 
between commercial fishermen who 
fish to feed their families and 
recreational fishermen who feed the 
coastal economies with millions of 
tourism dollars. 

Circumstances are complex and 
decisions, pressure-packed. Manag- 
ers are realizing that they need to 
know just as much about people as 
they know about fish and shellfish. 

This biennium, Sea Grant is 
funding several efforts aimed at 
learning more about fishermen, their 
problems, their conflicts and their 
real value to the economy. 

Commercial fishermen hate turtle 
excluder devices, or TEDs as they 
call them in polite company. 

Their list of reasons for despising 
these devices is as long as a child's 
wish list at Christmas. Most fre- 
quently, fishermen say TEDs lose the 
catch they need to fill their nets and 
their pockets, can't be used in areas 
thick with submerged grasses and 
add yet another cost to doing 

But also on that list is a gripe 
against the National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NMFS), the agency that 
developed TEDs and the regulations 
that govern their use. Watermen have 
never forgiven the agency for 
designing the excluders without 
input from the commercial sector 
and for forcing the regulations down 
fishermen's throats like an unwanted 
dose of bad-tasting castor oil. 

Fishermen don't want that to 
happen again, says Sea Grant 
researcher Michael Orbach. Orbach 
and Jeff Johnson, anthropologists at 
East Carolina University, are mid- 
way through a two-year Sea Grant 
project designed to solicit 
fishermen's input into the regulations 
needed to manage the state's multi- 
faceted fisheries. 

When compared to other states, 

North Carolina has relatively few 
fisheries regulations for watermen to 
adhere to, Orbach says. But recent 
problems with overfishing and 
resource decline have fisheries 
managers talking about a full plate of 
new rules. 

Many of the considerations 
center around a concept Orbach calls 
direct effort control. 

Three types of direct effort 
control have been tested and used in 
other states. One type limits the 
number of people licensed to fish for 

, B|ll|| 

Michael Orbach 


ECU News Bureau 

a certain species. Most people call 
this type of management limited 

A second type of direct effort 
control limits the amount of fish or 
shellfish a fisherman is allowed to 
catch. The fisherman is allotted a 
quota, or percentage of the total 
harvest, that he can catch himself or 
that he can sell to others. This type of 
management is commonly called 
Individual Transferable Quotas, or 

A gear-based control system is 
the hallmark of the third type of 
control system. Under this plan, the 
amount of gear a fisherman uses, for 

instance crab pots, is limited. 

Fisheries managers are giving 
these management alternatives 
serious consideration. But Orbach 
says before any decisions are made, 
fisheries managers must consider 
what effects these strategies will 
have on commercial fishermen. 

To find out that information, 
Orbach, Johnson and graduate 
research assistant Patrick Stanforth 
are using a variety of methods to 
learn more about commercial 
fishermen, their way of life, their 

Jeff Johnson 

ECU News Bureau 

problems and how they feel about 
proposed solutions. 

During the first year of their 
project, the team has pored over N.C. 
Division of Marine Fisheries license 
information to learn what fisheries 
watermen are engaged in and what 
gear they use. From the license 
information, the researchers chose a 
subsample of fishermen to complete 
a mail survey. In the survey, fisher- 
men were asked their fishing history, 
which species they sought, when 
they targeted certain fish and 
shellfish, and what kind of boats and 
gear they used. 



Soft crabs packed for market. 

Scott D. Taylor 

Based on that information, 
Johnson was able to determine some 
distinctive fishing patterns and the 
fishermen central to those patterns. 
Then, Stanforth conducted in-depth, 
face-to-face interviews with these 
fishermen to gather even more detail 
about North Carolina's complex 
fishing scenario. 

Beginning this spring, the 
research team will round out its Sea 
Grant project with three workshop 

During the first workshops, 
fishermen will be asked to talk about 
the problems and issues they face. 
Researchers will discuss some of the 
management options tried in other 
areas of the country. 

In the second series of work- 
shops, scheduled for early summer, 
Orbach and Johnson will talk with 
fishermen about possible manage- 
ment options for North Carolina. 
Then fishermen will be asked how 
they think these management 
schemes would affect them. 

"We will give them examples of 
systems that limited the number of 
people and tell them what hap- 
pened," Orbach says. "We'll give 
them examples of where they put in 
ITQs and tell them what happened. 
We'll give them examples of where 
they put in gear-based controls and 
tell them what happened. Then we'll 


say to them: 'Given this is what 
happens when you do this, what do 
you think we should do here?"' 

Finally, in late summer, fisher- 
men will be asked to attend a final 
series of workshops. Here, they will 
hammer out the management and 
enforcement details for the options 
favored most heavily during the 
second workshops. 

Orbach says this project offers 
several advantages. It will provide a 
comprehensive report that docu- 
ments the complexities and interre- 
latedness of Tar Heel fisheries. 

But more importantly, "going 
through the extensive workshops, the 
fishermen will: A, understand what's 
going on and B, have a stake in it," 
Orbach says. "That's what we call 
the bottom-up theory of developing 
fish regulations." 

Orbach readily admits that if 
fishermen had their druthers, there 
would be less regulation instead of 

"All things considered, they'd 
really rather not have regulations, but 
I'd rather not have speed limits too 
when I drive the car," Orbach says. 
"Most people I talk to say we really 
need to do something. They just 
want to be in on it." 

And Orbach says if fishermen 
ignore the need for regulations and 
effort control, then they may lose 

their place in the resource allocation 
system. Other competitive forces such 
as developers, recreational fishermen, 
marina operators, conservationists and 
tourist interests could essentially edge 
fishermen out of business. 

"There is a two-edged sword with 
the lack of regulation and the lack of 
property rights in the fisheries," he 
says. "The good part is there aren't a 
lot of people telling you what to do. 
There aren't a lot of rules and regula- 

"The bad part is you are kind of 
hanging out to dry when these other 
competitive forces come in, and you 
have no publicly recognized rights or 
privileges in the system," Orbach 
says. "In fact, this is the case in most 
of our fisheries today. That's what 
these direct effort control systems do. 
They give commercial fishermen a 
publicly defined and recognized place 
in the system. They grant private 
ownership of the privilege, not the 
resource, to people who are going to 
have to depend on that resource." 

But it is in the fishermen's interest 
to tailor the privileges they receive to 
meet the problems and challenges they 
face. And Orbach is hoping his project 
will provide fishermen the input into 
the management that they deserve. 

"NMFS has got (itself) into the 
position at least of appearing to push 
one type of solution — ITQs," Orbach 
says. "The danger in that is the tool kit 

problem. You need a hammer, but 
you are using a screwdriver. You 
have got to pick out what your 
problem is and use the right tool. 
You are not going to fix everything 
with a screwdriver. 

"Our approach is to say, 'Let's 
look at the whole tool kit and let 
fishermen help us choose the right 
tool,'" he says. 

Orbach says his project will 
provide resource managers with 
plenty of information to think about 
but not any ready-made answers. 

"If you're a public policymaker, 
you still will have to make value 
decisions once you have our data," 
he says. "But biological data doesn't 
tell you the answers either." 

Commercial fishermen and 
recreational anglers are like siblings. 
Sometimes they get along; some- 
times they don't. 

But as stocks of many popular 
fish have declined in recent years, 
the bickering between the two 
groups has increased as they com- 
pete for fish, fishing grounds and the 
right to catch certain species. 

In North Carolina, the strife has 
come over striped bass, redfish, 
flounder and speckled trout. 

And the arguments usually go 
something like this. 

Recreational anglers claim that 
the commercial fishermen are 
greedy, catching more than their fair 
share of the resource and leaving 
nothing behind for the sportsmen to 
catch. And, the anglers claim that 
their weekend fishing fun feeds 
millions of dollars into the coastal 
economy, giving them the right to a 
ready supply of fish. 

Commercial fishermen say it's 
just the opposite. It's the recreational 
fishermen who are greedy. After all, 
they say, watermen are trying to 
make a living from fishing, and they 
provide the only avenue for wild fish 

to reach a public hungry for this high 
quality protein. 

The mediators for the two groups 
have been management groups such 
as the N.C. Marine Fisheries Com- 
mission and the South Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council. So 
far, they have arbitrated most of the 
disputes, with both groups making 

But what about the future? Will 
there be more competition? Will the 
friction between the two groups 
become more heated as it has in 
other states? 

Sea Grant anthropologists David 
Griffith and Jeff Johnson plan to find 
some answers during a two-year 

project that delves into the midst of 
the fray between recreational and 
commercial fishermen. 

First, the ECU duo completed a 
10-year history of conflict between 
the two groups. Now, they are 
focusing on four specific conflicts — 
trawling and habitat destruction, king 
mackerel, redfish and flounder. 

"The purpose of the study," says 
Griffith, "is to figure out the cause of 
the conflict, the differences between 
perceived conflict and real conflict, 

actual incidences of conflict and any 
possible solutions." 

To find the answers, Griffith and 
Johnson are interviewing recreational 
anglers, commercial fishermen, 
resource managers and the agents 
from Sea Grant's Marine Advisory 
Service who specialize in fisheries. 

Griffith says he and Johnson will 
also study how disagreements 
between the recreational and com- 
mercial fishermen become politicized 
and how other groups such as 
environmentalists sometimes become 
involved in conflicts. The team will 
also determine if class, kinship and 
friends affect the formation of 
alliances during hostilities. 

Jim Easley 

After compiling the results of its 
interviews, the team will use a 
complex sociological modeling tool 
to see if there is a consensus among 
the squabbling fishermen about the 
conflicts and their possible resolu- 

Griffith says the team's findings 
should be helpful for resource 
managers in three ways. 

One, it will identify whether 
conflicts are real or perceived. If 



Fisherman mends his nets. 

Scott D. Taylor 

many conflicts are largely perceived, 
then they may be resolved easily by 
providing accurate information to 
opposing groups. 

Two, the research will show how 
conflicts reflect political and social 
alliances, thus identifying key groups 
of people who need to be involved in 
solving frictions. 

Finally, it is hoped the research 
will reveal local, informal ways of 
dissolving disharmony that may be 
incorporated into more formal 
resource management techniques. 

Everywhere you turn, economists 
are shaping policies that will mold our 
country's future. 

The same holds true for fisheries 
management. Economic theory is 
gradually becoming a greater factor in 
management decisions. 

Fisheries managers are beginning 
to utter words such as assets, net 
values, net benefits, supply, demand 
and optimum yields. And rightly so, 
says N.C. State University economist 
Jim Easley. 

Easley, a Sea Grant researcher, 
recently organized an economics 
summit for North Carolina's fisheries 
managers, bringing in several of the 
nation's top natural resource and 
fisheries economists to introduce the 
complexities of economic theory. 

The summit, co-sponsored by Sea 

Grant and the Division of Marine 
Fisheries, focused specifically on how 
managers can make tough decisions 
about allocating stocks between 
commercial and recreational fisher- 

"There's a lot of competition for 
our fish, between different commer- 
cial groups, between commercial and 
recreational fishermen, a whole range 
of people," Easley says. "The back- 
drop is there have been a lot of 
numbers thrown about justifying 
larger shares of allocation, and in 
many cases, inappropriate numbers or 
inappropriate economic analysis to 
undergird that sort of decision. 

"If you are going to decide to shift 
part of a harvest from one group to 
another," he says, "you want to make 
sure there are net gains. That's the sort 
of issue we took up. ... We probably 
presented more economic principles ... 
than those folks ever want to see 
again. But I think it was a productive 

When making allocation decisions 
between commercial and recreational 
fishermen, people often compare 
expenditures for the two groups. But 
Easley says this is like comparing the 
proverbial apple and orange. 

"What you really want to measure 
is net benefits," he says, "That is, 
benefits to consumers or users of a 
resource that are above the costs of 

harvesting. We need demand func- 
tions for these harvests and then net 
out ... the costs of the harvesting. We 
need the same sort of analysis for both 

When it comes to deriving the net 
benefit for recreational fishing, 
managers should substract the costs — 
the gasoline, the lodging, tackle 
rentals and devaluation of the boat — 
associated with recreational fishing 
from what an angler would pay rather 
than forego the pleasures of snagging 
a bluefish or king mackerel. 

In examining commercial benefits, 
Easley says all profits for harvesting 
seafood, from the vessel to the 
processor to the seafood market to the 
consumer, must be considered in 
allocation decisions. 

Once managers can determine the 
net benefits for commercial and 
recreational fishermen, then they can 
start making comparisons and analyz- 
ing different allocation scenarios. 

Using demand functions, manag- 
ers can see how shifts in quantities of 
fish caught affect each harvesting 
sector and the economy. 

Easley stresses this is the kind of 
economic analysis that fishery 
managers must begin doing, and doing 
soon, if they want to manage the 
state's fisheries responsibly and with 
an eye on having stocks of fish for the 
future. El 


By Jeannie Faris 

On a late-winter Sunday in 1989, 
Billy Carl Tillett was warming up the 
engines of his commercial fishing 
boat to go trawling for trout. The 
crew was standing ready. 

Then, he switched off the ignition 
and stepped back onto the dock. 

In one impulsive gesture, the 
eldest son of a leading Wanchese 
fishing family ended his 30-year 
career on the water. He handed the 
keys over to his younger brother 

"I was getting to where I was sick 
and tired of fishing," Tillett says. 
"The rules and regulations I was 
seeing I couldn't put up with. I was 
used to doing what I wanted to all my 

The fishing trade was passed 
down several generations to the 
Tillett brothers, and now Billy Carl's 
19-year-old son works for the family 
business, Moon Tillett Fish Co. In the 
three years since he gave up his boat, 
Tillett has tended to the dockside 
operations of the business. 

His story isn't altogether unique 
these days. 

All along the coast, North 
Carolinians with fishing in their blood 
are souring on the business. They say 
it's because rules and regulations 
designed to protect the stocks are 
being handed down by state and 
federal agencies that have no appre- 
ciation for their trade and precious 
little input from the commercial 

Accustomed to living by their 
wits, these fishermen claim they'll be 
financially shipwrecked by restric- 
tions on their gear, limits on bycatch 
they're allowed to land and cordoned- 
off fishing grounds. They can't even 
buy new nets for their boats without 
wondering if they'll be legal in six 
months or a year. 

"It's gotten so you don't know 









Scott D. Taylor 

birds in the wake of a wotting trawlei 

what's legal and what's not legal," 
says Clinton Willis, a Marshallberg 
shrimper. "You need a lawyer to read 
the handbook." 

But it hasn't always been that 

North Carolina fishermen are 
proud of their heritage as aggressive 
and versatile workers, able to shift 
from one fishery to the next with a 
change in seasons. They've developed 
gear and techniques to mine the 
shoreline for finned fortunes. 

Fishermen learn their trade 
through years on the water, most often 
as understudies to their fathers. They 
know how the tides, moon, weather 
and water temperatures influence the 
catch. In the summer, many of them 
shrimp. In the fall, they harvest clams, 
trawl for flounder, flyfish for trout and 
croaker, and gillnet for spot. 

No doubt, they're efficient. 

And that efficiency has helped 
turn the critical eye of regulators, 
sportfishermen and environmentalists 
onto the fishing industry in recent 
years. State and federal agencies 
manage the fish populations, includ- 

ing those that are overharvested or 
threatened by human activities. 

Fishermen, however, are not suited 
to these growing regulations, says Jim 
Bahen, a Sea Grant marine advisory 
specialist. They think regulators are 
picking on them. And they're frus- 
trated because they don't know what 
the future holds or how to respond. 

"It's like everybody has discovered 
the coast in the last 12 years," says 
Willis, whose pickup sports a bumper 
sticker declaring commercial fisher- 
men an endangered species. "We've 
had the coast for the last 100 years, 
and I think we've been good stewards 
to it." 

Irate fishermen admit, though, that 
they are part of the problem. They 
have difficulty learning what's at stake 
when a regulation is pending; they 
tend to not organize or voice their 

"We don't react until (a regulation) 
is already here, and that's our fault," 
Tillett says. "It's our fault for being 
that way. But it's hard to keep it all in 
your head. It's hard to run that boat. 
You've got three men depending on 

you. Some of the boats are owned by 
somebody else, and the captain has to 
produce or he's not going to be there." 

Organizing is simply not their 
nature, Tillett explains. Fishermen are 
not politically connected or especially 
articulate. They're either working or 
tired from working when it's time to 

They feel outnumbered and 
overpowered. But perhaps more 
importantly, they don't organize 
because feuding divisions within their 
own ranks are at odds over fishing 
grounds and resources. Often, the battle 
lines are drawn over gear. 

"That's really the bad thing," says 
Joey Daniels, part-owner of Wanchese 
Fish Co. and manager of its two North 
Carolina facilities. "You take your 
long-netters; they can't stand crab 
potters. Gill-netters don't like trawlers. 
They think they catch up all the fish. 
It's one thing after another. They just 
don't get along." 

The commercial fishermen in North 
Carolina have long been portrayed as a 
monolithic group of conservative, 
independent people living in rural 
coastal areas. But in truth, they're more 
complicated than that. 

They are as varied as the catches 
they harvest from the ocean and 

Unlike Tillett — whose family 
owns two 85-foot, steel-hulled boats — 
Willis is a one-man operation. He has 
little else to fall back on. He built his 
own vessel, the wooden 37-foot Capt. 
Will, named for his grandfather. He 
shrimps by himself in the spring and 
summer. Come winter, he moors his 
boat and creates stained-glass art and 
windows to shore up his income. 

North Carolina is home to many 
fishermen who stay close to the shores 
they grew up on, harvesting oysters and 
clams from small boats. Others like 
Willis are more mobile, with larger 
boats to shrimp and gillnet. 

Only a handful of successful 


operations can send their boats north to 
scallop off New Jersey or to fish off 
Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and even 
Alaska. The Daniels operation falls 
into this category, along with the 
business owned by the Smith family in 
Beaufort and Atlantic. 

The Luther Smith & Son Fish 
House is owned by Billy Smith Sr., 
and it runs seven boats 60 to 85 feet 
long. The Daniels' Wanchese Fish Co. 
owns 12 boats and operates facilities in 
North Carolina, Virginia and Massa- 
chusetts. Both families send boats 
north to scallop. 

These differences among them 
suggest that some fishermen — the 
smaller ones especially — are more 
vulnerable to changes in an industry 
pitching on waves of change. 

"There was a time when change 
was a welcome thing — better ways to 
do things, more fisheries to get into," 
Bahen says. "But by now, new 
fisheries have been entered into. Not 
that many options are available to them 

The age-old fishing business is the 
only trade many of them know. And 
rather than change, some would prefer 
to return to the old ways and simpler 
days, back when their fathers and 
grandfathers fished the North Carolina 
coastline. Then, all a commercial 
fisherman needed was a boat, gear and 
willingness to sift the waters for his 

"A fisherman was able to go 
fishing when he wanted to go and stay 
home when he wanted to," Bahen says. 
"He could have a lot of money in his 
pocket one day and be broke the next. 
There were a lot of fish and little or no 

Today, fishermen are wrestling 
with new restrictions on their gear and 
their territory. They face affronts from 
groups that question their impacts on 
fish stocks and the environment. And 
they reckon with water pollution and 
habitat destruction caused by construc- 

tion and other human activities. 

Fishermen complain that their nets 
are being unfairly singled out as the 
cause for declining stocks when other 
problems are contributing. If anything 
is responsible for population dips, it's 
water quality that has been compro- 
mised by development and pollution, 
they say. 

"We get blamed for overfishing," 
Daniels says. "When people come 
down on vacation to go fishing, they 
don't see the fish, and they think 
they've all been caught up by the nets. 
And that's not the case." 

Industry leaders say that increas- 
ingly, regulations are being slapped 
onto fishermen through public pressure 

"Sometimes we catch the small 
fish," he says. "We have to kill small 
fish to get the big ones, but that's going 
to happen. You're not going to change 
that with all the gear that you modify. 
You're still not going to completely 
correct it." 

Even so, fishermen say, regulations 
are necessary, and the fish stocks 
should be protected. But the gear to 
protect sea turtles, declared endangered 
species by Congress, has created by far 
the greatest flap in the commercial 
fishing industry. 

On a brisk December day, Tillett 
fidgets in the processing area of the fish 
house with a turtle excluder device 
(TED) that is required by law on his 

Billy Carl Tillett 

Joey Daniels 

and knee-jerk reactions to natural 
fluctuations in stocks that are beyond 
their control. 

The tide of public opinion is 
against them, they say, and it's being 
driven by perceptions rather than 
actual problems. 

"One of the hardest things that I 
have to deal with is the public claiming 
to have as much right to the resource as 
we do," Tillett says. "It's true; it's the 
law of the land. But still, they don't 
know what it's like. 

nets. Designed for shrimp trawls, the 
TEDs are not yet optimal for the 
flounder fishery and will probably cost 
fishermen part of their catch, he says. 

This oval-shaped gadget is designed 
to release a turtle trapped in the nets, 
but it's the commercial fisherman's 
biggest headache, Tillett says. Local 
fishermen are also on edge about 
requirements that they meet new 
quotas, size limits and mesh sizes in 
their flounder nets. 



"In the United States, they'll knock 
out a hundred million pounds of 
seafood to save one turtle," Smith 
says. "They're going to starve every 

The National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NMFS) is the frequent target 
of commercial fishermen's rage. 
Daniels keeps a manila folder stuffed 
with 50 proclamations — or new rules 
— issued in 1992. And Smith com- 
plains that an NMFS proclamation 
didn't give fishermen enough time to 
comply with a new 5 1/2-inch mesh- 
size limit in their nets. He'd purchased 
$4,000 worth of new webbing, but 
couldn't get nets made in time for the 

should take a cue from farmers who 
leave their fields feral to rejuvenate. 
Waters left untrawled or unfished 
could allow the stocks to rebound. 
But fishermen claim they're more in 
tune with the resource — and the 
reasons for keeping it well — than 
they get credit for. 

Historically, the weather and the 
marketplace have regulated the fishing 
business. They would fish for what- 
ever was out there, and when the fish 
got cheap, they would move onto 
something else, Daniels says. 

Nets were adapted to target 
multiple catches during a trawl. Tillett 
says fishermen learned to catch trout 
off Wanchese in the early 1970s by 

n'M r VI c Jeanne tans 

Billy Smith Sr. 

For Tillett, Daniels and Smith, 
regulations and paperwork are now 
daily rigors as common as negotiating 
fish prices. No longer on the boats, 
they manage the business from sparse 
offices steeped in the smells of fresh 
seafood. Men in knee-high, rubber 
boots thud in and out, unloading the 
latest catch or biding their time until 
the next trip out. 

Like farmers, commercial fisher- 
men have adjusted their work habits 
and equipment over the years to get 
the greatest yield from nature. 

Some critics, however, say they 

Clint Willis 

fiddling with a flounder net. 

"Maybe we shouldn't have, but we 
always tried to increase and do better," 
he says. "Maybe having to increase 
and do better sometimes was a way of 
telling us we should have left well 
enough alone and fished the way we 

His boats forced in by stormy 
forecasts, Tillett surveys the docks and 
muses that perhaps fishermen believed 
the fish were "thicker" than they 
actually were. But the gear made them 
think so, he says. 

Smith, however, holds the hard 

line in the debate over resources. 
There are enough fish for commercial 
and recreational fishermen, he says. 
Though declines have been observed, 
they're only a blip in the natural ebb 
and flow of stock populations. Fish 
were even scarcer during a dry spell 
in the 1950s and 1960s, but they 
rebounded, he says. 

"Anybody who's been around 30 
or 40 years knows that fish disappear 
and they come back," Smith says. 

But that message is difficult to sell 
at a time when value is placed more 
than ever on preservation and conser- 
vation of natural resources. 

Tillett says he's frustrated at the 
public's willingness to join the clamor 
against fishermen. Organizing to 
speak out and fight back is key, he 

In Marshallberg, Willis helped 
organize the Carteret County 
Waterman's Association in 1985, but 
it unraveled after seven years of 
working to stave off new regulations. 
At its peak, it had 250 members. 

The N.C. Fisheries Association 
also speaks for commercial fisher- 
men, but many are reluctant to join 
because 75 percent of the members 
are seafood dealers, says Daniels, 
president of the association. Yet 75 
percent of the problems it tackles are 
the fisherman's, he says. 

Rather, fishing communities hope 
to get some political mileage from the 
budding auxiliaries of women who 
have the spare time and the drive to 
lobby lawmakers and policymakers. 
Their message is about a jeopardized 
way of life that supports many coastal 
families and communities totally 
dependent on fishing, Smith says. 

It's a message they expect to ring 
true in hard economic times that have 
placed a national emphasis on jobs. 

Also, Tillett says, commercial 
fishermen should seek better repre- 
sentation on the South Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council, which 


decides how many fish can be caught 
in a region that includes North 
Carolina. The council is appointed by 
the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on 
recommendation from the governor of 
each member state, and it crafts 
federal law using NMFS recommen- 

The fishermen need more front- 
end involvement before a regulation is 
put into place, Tillett says. Keeping 
the lines of communication open and 
staying in good graces with the 
regulators is important. But finding 
the time on a fisherman's schedule 
isn't easy. 

"There's so much traveling, so 
many meetings, that you couldn't fish 
and tend to it," says Tillett, who is on 
the board of directors for the N.C. 
Fisheries Association. "There's no 
way you could fish and make a living 
with all we're going through and tend 
to all that stuff." 

Tillett, however, is among the 
more optimistic of North Carolina 
fishermen. It's darkest just before 
dawn, he says, and commercial 
fishermen just may get the message 
and organize. If they don't, the future 
doesn't look bright. 

Eventually, some fishermen 
predict, the commercial fishery may 
lose the diversity of its members. Only 
the large, well-heeled operations will 

"If it keeps going the way it is 
today, with us having no more voice 
than we've got and we don't get 
together just a little bit better than we 
are, I see it being mighty difficult to 
make a living," Tillett says. "And 
you're going to see a lot of people go 

Bahen speculates there will always 
be a commercial fishing industry in 
North Carolina. But the extent of it, 
and the number of people it will 
support, is unclear. 

Versatility will be crucial, and 
anybody who can't afford the gear to 

Commercial trawlers at rest in Oriental. 

switch his catch may be squeezed out, 
he says. 

"The guy who makes a good living 
at it, who works full time and treats it 
as a business, with capital to diversify 
— he will do better," Bahen says. "If 
there's a good market for shark, 
dogfish, he can shift gears and go 
fishing for that. They're all going to be 
affected by changing laws and regula- 
tions and how they manage this 
renewable resource. But this guy will 
probably survive." 

The Wanchese Fish Co. has done 
this. Moored in a Wanchese harbor is a 
185-foot ship that is being renovated 
by the Daniels family for scalloping 
expeditions in Alaska. 

Down the coast, Willis simply 
takes comfort in the fact that his home- 
made boat is paid for. But he wonders 
about the small fishermen like himself 
who don't own their boats outright. 

Still, fishing is a way of life that 
most of them won't surrender, even 
under the worst of circumstances. 

Smith learned the trade from his 
uncle when he was 6, and he's seen six 
generations of his family enter the 
business. Willis learned it from his 

Scott D- Taylor 

father and grandfather. Tillett began his 
career at age 7 when he helped his 
father run charter boats in the summer. 
And Daniels has grown up in the 
business, but never quite took to the 
water like some of his brothers. 

"I certainly don't do it for the 
money," says Willis. "You're your own 
person. It's the last bastion of free 
enterprise. If you got the equipment, 
and you're willing to do it, you can earn 
what you want to." 

Fishing has traditionally provided a 
good living for young men who quit 
school to join their fathers on the boat, 
Smith says. Gear, boats and knowledge 
were handed down from father to son. 

"That's the greatest life in the 
world, out on the water," he says. 

Tillett holds out hope that his son 
will make a good living in the well- 
established family business. 

But Daniels says he's trying to steer 
his 20-year-old son away from the 
family's East Coast fishing empire. 

"I believe fishermen are on the 
endangered species list," he says. 
"They're not going to get any thicker. 
They're going down. The numbers are 
going to grow smaller and smaller." □ 


m a r i n e advice 

Specialist Focuses on Seafood Safety 

Consumers are clearly more 
concerned about the foods they eat. 
Shoppers are asking more questions 
about ingredients, nutrient content, 
quality and safety. 

Joyce Taylor, Sea Grant's seafood 
education specialist, says she's 
fielding a barrage of questions at 
workshops about the quality of our 
coastal catch. In fact, quality and 
safety have become such a concern for 
the seafood industry and consumers 
that Taylor is now focusing most of 
her education efforts in that area. 

When asked about pollution and 
the subsequent contamination of fish 
and shellfish in North Carolina waters, 
Taylor says species harvested along 
Tar Heel shores get a clean bill of 

Clams and oysters, however, could 
pose a problem if they are taken from 
waters closed to harvest because of 
contamination from bacteria. But 
consumers shouldn't worry if they 
buy their clams and oysters from a 
seafood dealer certified by the N.C. 
Division of Shellfish Sanitation. 

A certified dealer can properly 
document that shellfish are harvested 
from non-contaminated, open waters, 
thus assuring customers of the safety 
of the product, Taylor says. 

Then comes the next question. 
Can fish and shellfish be eaten raw? 

Taylor says she advises against 
eating raw seafood. 

Shellfish, in particular, can carry 
rare, but naturally occurring bacteria, 
vibrio vulnificus, that can cause a 
severe or potentially fatal infection in 
people whose immune systems are 
compromised by a variety of diseases 
and prescribed drugs. 

Parasites pose a risk with raw 
finfish and shellfish. But that risk can 
be minimized if the fish is adequately 

frozen to destroy the parasites. 

In countries where raw fish is 
served frequently, the fish are usually 
frozen prior to preparation. And 
Taylor urges U.S. consumers of sushi, 
sashimi and ceviche to do the same. 

She says the fish should be held in the 
freezer at -4 F for four to five days. 

Taylor says people who prepare 
ceviche, raw fish steeped in lemon or 
lime juice flavored with onions, 
peppers and seasonings, mistakenly 
think the marinade kills any parasites. 

"People think the marinade cooks 
the fish," Taylor says. "It looks that 
way. But it is not cooked." 

To ensure the safety of seafood, 
Taylor recommends cooking the catch. 
Any fish or shellfish should reach an 
internal temperature of 145 F or be 
cooked until it loses its translucence or 
flakes easily. 

But no amount of cooking will 
improve a poor quality or spoiled fish, 
Taylor says. Use your nose and eyes 
when buying seafood to ensure you 
are getting the freshest product 

Don't expect, however, to be able 
to detect seafood contaminated by 

pollution. No amount of sniffing, 
looking or tasting can help consumers 
determine if PCBs, dioxin, mercury, 
bacteria or other pollutants are present 
in fish and shellfish. Seafood that 
tastes bad has been mishandled or has 

Taylor says she is frequently asked 
by consumers how to handle seafood 
safely at home. She offers these 

• Wash your hands frequently with 
soap and water for at least 20 seconds 
after going to the bathroom, before 
starting food preparation, before 
working with new food or new 
utensils, after finishing food prepara- 
tion and before serving food. 

• Prevent cross-contamination. 
Never let raw seafood or other meats 
come in contact with cooked seafood 
or meat or any other food, raw or 

• If you use a cloth for cleaning in 
the kitchen, use a clean one after 
working with raw seafood or meat. 
You may find it easier to use paper 
towels and dispose of them after each 

• Cut raw seafood on an acrylic 
cutting board, never a wooden one. 
Clean the board thoroughly after each 

• Wash boards, counters and all 
utensils with detergent and hot water 
after each use. 

• Serve cooked seafood on clean 
plates. Never put it back on the plate 
with raw juices. 

• Refrigerate food as soon as 
possible after cooking, always within 
two hours. 

• Always thaw seafood in the 
refrigerator or under cold running 
water. Never thaw seafood at room 

Kathy Hart 


i e I d notes 

Pollution and Seafood: What People Think 

In recent years, noted media outlets 
such as Consumer Reports, The Wash- 
ington Post, USA Today, Time and The 
Today Show have taken swipes at the 
seafood industry, claiming the prod- 
ucts are uninspected and contaminated 
by toxins, heavy metals, bacteria and 
viruses that pollute our coastal waters. 
In some cases, this negative informa- 
tion has caused decreases in seafood 

But how do news reports about 
coastal pollution really affect people's 
feelings about the fishermen's catch? 
Will stories about syringes on the New 
Jersey shore stop people in North 
Carolina from buying flounder fillets at 
the grocery store? 

No one knew until recently. 

Two Sea Grant scientists, David 
Griffith and Jeff Johnson, anthropolo- 
gists at East Carolina University, 
recently completed a two-year study 
aimed at understanding people's 
perceptions of coastal pollution and its 
effects on the quality of seafood. 

They interviewed and asked 
questions about seafood and pollution 
to a random sample of 140 individuals 
in two North Carolina towns, Siler 
City and Hobucken, and in Baltimore, 
Md. Then the team analyzed and 
interpreted the results. 

Their findings suggest that con- 
sumers do agree there is a direct 
relationship between seafood safety 
and pollution. But people aren't 
exactly sure what that relationship is 
and how it works. 

For instance, they understand that 
PCBs contaminate fish. But they aren't 
sure if certain species of fish are more 
susceptible to contamination than 
others or where the PCB concentrates 
in the fish's body. 

Griffith says that people tend not to 
discriminate between different types of 

pollution, believing that the presence 
of any kind of pollutant will have 
negative effects on human health. 

And interestingly, the general 
public puts great faith in its powers of 
taste and smell to detect any contami- 

nated seafood. "In fact, during our 
interviewing, some respondents voiced 
the belief that seafood which tasted bad 
had been tainted by a pollutant of some 
kind," Griffith says. 

Perhaps their reliance on their 
sensory perceptions underlines another 
ambiguity people have about seafood. 
Griffith says people were unclear 
whether they could trust the food 
industry to keep seafood contaminated 
by pollution off the shelves. 

When it comes to stopping pollu- 
tion, respondents believed some types 
— litter and some industrial contami- 
nants — can be reduced. But other 
forms of pollution, for instance acid 
rain and oil spills, can't be controlled 
and are the price we pay for progress. 

A message such as this, Griffith 
says, sends the signal to the food 
industry that, at least for the time 
being, fishermen, farmers, processors, 
grocers and restaurateurs probably 

need not worry that the public will 
reject foods based on its understanding 
of the relationship between food safety 
and pollution. There exists an almost 
fatalist attitude that pollutants have 
become a fact of life. 

What can the seafood industry learn 
from these findings? 

First, people's limited knowledge 
led them to lump fish and shellfish 
together and to consider it all tainted by 
any incidence of coastal pollution. 

Government and industry need to 
educate consumers about the differ- 
ences between effects of pollutants on 
various seafood products, Griffith says. 
And it may be wise to educate consum- 
ers about the depth, breadth and 
diversity of marine environments and 
about the sea's capability to cleanse 
itself of pollutants over time. 

Additionally, space and time figure 
prominently in how consumers think 
about pollution and seafood safety. The 
ability to think about pollutants in terms 
of where and how rapidly they affect 
the environment may mean they will be 
predisposed to information that illus- 
trates how the effects of pollutants may 
be confined to certain places and times. 

This finding also suggests that the 
industry would do well to supply more 
information about where and when 
seafood is harvested. 

Finally, Griffith says there seems to 
be a lack of faith in the industry's 
capability to police itself. To combat 
this problem, he suggests supplying 
more information about inspection 
programs currently in place and 
expanding these programs to include 
more products in the future. 

For more information about 
Griffith's findings, write: Institute for 
Coastal and Marine Resources, East 
Carolina University, Greenville, NC 
27858. KathyHart 


Ci f t deck 

Lucas Verdict 

The wheels of justice have finally 
churned out a ruling in the Lucas vs. 
S.C. Coastal Council lawsuit. 

In a recent decision, the S.C. 
Supreme Court ordered the state to 
pay beachfront property owner David 
Lucas for the temporary loss of the use 
of his land. 

The loss covered a four-year 
period from 1988 — when the state 
barred development on Lucas' 
property — to 1992. The court, 
however, did not specify the amount 
of compensation due or a means for 
calculating it. 

The roots of the case reach back to 
1986, when Lucas paid $975,000 for 
two beachfront lots on the Isle of 
Palms. At the time, no permits to build 
were required from the Coastal 

But in 1988, the state enacted the 
Beachfront Management Act to 
preserve and protect the South 
Carolina coastlands by restricting then- 
use and by establishing a 40-year plan 
for moving construction setback lines 

Lucas' property was on the 
coastward side of the setback line, and 
as a result, was no longer eligible for 
any construction larger than a walk- 
way or small deck. 

The resulting lawsuit traveled as 
far as the U.S. Supreme Court, where 
Lucas claimed the state owed him 
compensation for the land regardless 
of its reasons for passing the act. 

The nation's high court ruled in 
June that the Coastal Council had 
failed to prove that any state interest 
justified the total taking of Lucas' 
land, and it indicated he was due 
payment. The case was returned to the 
S.C. Supreme Court to determine 
whether any South Carolina nuisance 
and property law would block Lucas' 
development plans. 

The S.C. Supreme Court subse- 
quently ruled that the Coastal Council 
failed to give any common-law basis 
for limiting use of the land. But it 
deemed the taking of Lucas' land only 
temporary because a 1990 amendment 
to the Beachfront Management Act 
allowed him to apply for a special 
permit to build. 

The case is expected to be a 
shaping force in policy that weighs 
the rights of property owners to use 
their land against the power of 
regulatory agencies to restrict uses of 
certain areas. 

The circumstances that gave rise 
to the Lucas case are not unusual, 
especially on the coast, says Walter 
Clark, Sea Grant coastal law special- 
ist. There has been an evolution in 
recent years of regulations to deal 
with a growing number of people 
competing for natural resources and 
land, particularly environmentally 
sensitive and hazardous areas, he says. 

The winter 1993 issue of Sea 
Grant's Legal Tides will feature an 
article on the ruling, co-authored by 
David Brower, Department of City 
and Regional Planning at the Univer- 
sity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 
and Dave Owens, Institute of Govern- 
ment at UNC-Chapel Hill. For a copy 
of Legal Tides, write Sea Grant at Box 
8605, N.C. State University, Raleigh, 
NC 27695. 

Zebra Mussel 

Sea Grant programs from five 
Mid- Atlantic states will join in a 
March conference in Baltimore, Md., 
to discuss the latest efforts to control 
the spread of the non-native zebra 

The meeting will target biologists, 
water-use managers, educators and 
outreach specialists concerned about 
the havoc waged in Great Lakes 

waters by the fast-spreading mollusks. 
Their colonies can damage boats, docks 
and buoys and block water intake pipes 
of industries and municipalities. 

The conference, scheduled March 
10-12, will be a first for the coalition of 
Sea Grant programs that is preparing 
for and fighting the invasion of the 
zebra mussel. The region includes 
North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, 
Delaware and New Jersey. 

Speakers will discuss other states' 
experiences with the mollusk, including 
its economic impact in the Northeast; 
biological and physiological character- 
istics that may have a bearing on the 
Chesapeake and Mid- Atlantic estuaries; 
dispersal in freshwater and estuarine 
systems; impacts on recreational water 
use; control measures and monitoring 

Coastal water quality specialist 
Barbara Doll will participate in the 
March conference and give a synopsis 
of North Carolina efforts to prepare for 
the mollusk, which has not yet reached 
Tar Heel waters. 

Coastal Celebration 

The fifth annual Save Our Sounds 
Coastal Celebration is scheduled for 
April 3-4 at the Kerr Scott Building on 
the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. 

The theme this year is "Preserving 
the Environment ... For the Children," 
with an emphasis on involving North 
Carolinians in preserving their coastal 
resources and heritage. 

More than 15,000 people attended 
the 1992 celebration, which featured 
about 40 booths and demonstrations. 
Among last year's attractions were 
exhibits by Sea Grant, the N.C. Nature 
Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the N.C. 
Aquarium, the N.C. Coastal Federation 
and the Ocracoke Preservation Society. 

In addition to these displays, coastal 
artisans will exhibit their crafts in boat 
building and decoy carving, balladeers 


and storytellers will share coastal 
folklore, and environmental education 
groups will perform skits and musi- 

The celebration will also feature 
hands-on exhibits such as a touch-tank 
stocked with marine animals and 
crafts using shells and sand. The 
winners of poster and essay contests 
carried throughout state schools will 
be unveiled. 

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A $2 
donation is requested at the door; 
children are admitted free. For more 
information, call 919/821-8790. 

Managing the 
Coastal Ocean 
for the 21st 

How should North 
Carolina manage the 
coastal ocean in the 
next century? 

A panel of experts 
will address this 
question in "Managing 
the Coastal Ocean for 
the 21st Century: 
North Carolina's 
Role," a May confer- 
ence at the University 
of North Carolina at 

The two-day 
conference, May 20- 
21, will be held at the 
University Center. It will target the 
state's resource managers, local and 
regional government officials, 
researchers and ocean users. 

Speakers will define the bound- 
aries and significant natural resources 
of North Carolina's coastal ocean; 
identify the status of, and potential 
risks to, coastal ocean resources; and 
identify current resource management 
strategies, use conflicts, informational 
gaps and future directions. 

Among the speakers will be 
Walter Clark, coastal law specialist for 
Sea Grant; Gene Huntsman, leader of 
the reef resources and coastal pelagics 

team at the Beaufort Laboratory of 
the National Marine Fisheries 
Service; and Stan Riggs, a geologist 
at East Carolina University. 

Sponsors include Sea Grant, N.C. 
Office of Marine Affairs/N.C. Ocean 
Affairs Council, N.C. Division of 
Coastal Management, UNC- 
Wilmington and the UNC system. 
Conference proceedings will be 
prepared by Sea Grant. 

Registration is $25. For informa- 
tion, call 919/733-2290 or write the 
Office of Marine Affairs, 417 N. 
Blount St., Raleigh, NC 27601. 

C.R. Edgerion 

Seining for bass and bream in Lake Phelps during Paddle to the 
Seal in July 1991. 

Paddle To The Sea II 

Wanted: 20 middle-grade science 
teachers from the Albemarle-Pamlico 
Sound area to join in an experiential 
learning workshop that involves 
canoeing through Lake Phelps, the 
Scuppernong River, Shallowbag Bay 
and Atlantic coastal waters. 

Why: to educate teachers about 
the basic ecological concepts and 
environmental issues important to the 
Coastal Plain of North Carolina and 
to share curriculum materials and 
activities that will enable them to 
transfer this information into the 

When: June 21-25, Aug. 13 and 
Oct. 9. 

Participating teachers will take 
part in the five-day workshop, with 
two one-day follow-ups to allow for 
production and evaluation of lessons. 

Modeled after the 1991 "Paddle to 
the Sea," this workshop targets the 
sparsely populated counties of Dare, 
Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington. This 
area is under intense research scrutiny 
for its water quality, biological 
diversity and management practices. 

The program involves a partner- 
ship among local school systems, Sea 
Grant, Pettigrew State 
Park, the N.C. 
Aquarium on Roanoke 
Island and other 
resources such as the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, the N.C. 
Wildlife Resources 
Commission and the 
Nature Conservancy. 

The project is 
funded by the U.S. 
Department of Educa- 
tion Eisenhower Act 
and the N.C. Math- 
ematics and Science 
Education Network. 

Teachers interested 
in participating in 
"Paddle to the Sea II" 
should request applica- 
tions from Sea Grant by 
writing or calling 919/515-2454. 
Applications are due by March 9, and 
selections will be made by April 9. 

John Miller 

A Sea Grant researcher has been 
named to a prestigious, three-year 
appointment as a visiting scientist at 
the Netherlands Institute for Sea 

As a visiting scientist, John 
Miller, professor of zoology at N.C. 
State University, will make biannual 
visits to the institute to share his 



expertise on flatfish. Miller has 
distinguished himself in research of 
flatfish migration and ecology, which 
is related to the institute's activities. 
Flatfish include plaice, halibut, sole 
and, in North Carolina, flounder. 

The appointment will reap benefits 
for North Carolina by giving Miller 
new insights for researching and 
managing flatfish in this area, says 
B. J. Copeland, director of Sea Grant. 
By knowing more about flatfish 
around the world, North Carolinians 
will be better able to manage their 
own flatfish populations. 

Ocean Outfall Forum 

The low-lying coastal region of 
North Carolina has problems with a 
routine service that most inland areas 
take for granted — wastewater 

Millions of gallons of wastewater 
are generated daily along the coast, 
and state planners must now find 
environmentally sound solutions for 
an area that can no longer sustain its 
hodgepodge of septic tanks and sewer 

An ocean outfall sewage treatment 
system is one solution. 

The pros and cons of the system 
will be explored in a two-day confer- 
ence, April 19-20, at the Atlantic 
Beach Sheraton in Carteret County. 

A cadre of national and state 
experts will give talks on the engineer- 
ing and scientific feasibility of the 
system and the economic and environ- 
mental impacts. The forum will also 
offer a period for audience discussion 
and interaction. 

The resulting information will be 
used to help the N.C. Division of 
Environmental Management (DEM) 
develop a policy on waste disposal in 
coastal North Carolina. No position on 
ocean wastewater discharges currently 

The Neuse River Council of 
Governments is sponsoring the forum, 
which is being financed by a grant 
from DEM. The forum was recom- 

mended by a steering committee 
named to explore the waste issue. 

The committee members are B. J. 
Copeland, director of Sea Grant; Roy 
Fogle, executive director of the Neuse 
River Council of Governments; Jay 
Sauber, environmental supervisor of 
DEM's water quality section; Don 
Kirkman, executive director of the 
Carteret County Economic Develop- 
ment Council; and Todd Miller, 
executive director of the N.C. Coastal 

About 300 state and regional 
leaders are expected to attend the 
forum. Participation is by invitation. 
Anyone interested in an invitation 
should call Fogle at 919/638-3185 or 
write the Neuse River Council of 
Governments, P.O. Box 1717, New 
Bern, NC 28563. 

Scott D. Taylor 

Teacher Litter 
Workshops Linked 
by Video 

Elementary and middle-grade 
teachers interested in litter education 
are encouraged to apply for an 
interactive workshop on March 4. The 
workshop will connect by video six 
sites statewide in a program to share 
materials and ideas. 

The workshop, which is being 
offered by N.C. Big Sweep, can 
accommodate 150 teachers across 
North Carolina. Big Sweep is a 

volunteer statewide cleanup that targets 
litter in lakes, streams, rivers and 

Each of the six workshop sites will 
register 25 teachers on a first-call basis. 
The sites, linked by state-of-the-art 
CONCERT technology, will be at the 
University of North Carolina at 
Asheville, N.C. A&T in Greensboro, 
UNC-Charlotte, N.C. State University 
in Raleigh, UNC-Wilmington and 
UNC-Chapel Hill. 

Participants will discuss the prob- 
lems, sources and solutions of litter and 
try out classroom activities and materi- 
als. The workshop is aimed at increas- 
ing litter awareness by sharing materi- 
als, resources and ideas for litter 

Among others, presentations will 
be given by Lundie Spence, marine 
education specialist for Sea Grant; Anne 
Hice, education specialist for the N.C. 
Wildlife Resources Commission; Big 
Sweep Executive Director Susan 
Bartholomew; Big Sweep county 
coordinators; and Lois Nixon, director 
of Wake County Keep America 

To register, call Bartholomew at 
919/856-6686 or the Sea Grant office 
at 919/515-2454. This free workshop 
will be funded by CP&L, Duke Power 
and TVA. Teachers can apply for half- 
day substitute reimbursement. 

Back by 

Popular Demand — 
Coastal Indians 

The recent issue of Coastwatch 
about coastal Native Americans was 
very popular. Our extra copies of the 
magazine left the office as fast as 
wrapping paper at an after-Christmas 
sale. Teachers, libraries and others were 
clamoring for more. 

So we decided to reprint the popular 
Sept./Oct. issue of Coastwatch, minus 
some of the dated material in the back 
sections. If you would like extra copies 
of the coastal Indians issue, write Sea 
Grant. Ask for UNC-SG-92-13. The 
cost is $2.50 per copy. 


a c k talk 

Coastwatch wants to hear from 
you on topics relating to the North 
Carolina coast. Letters should be no 
longer than 250 words and should 
contain the author's name, address 
and telephone number. Letters may be 
edited for style. Send all correspon- 
dence to Coastwatch, UNC Sea Grant, 
Box 8605, N.C. State University, 
Raleigh, NC 27695. Opinions ex- 
pressed on this page are not necessar- 
ily those of UNC Sea Grant employ- 
ees and staff. 

Why No 

"Year off the Indian?" 

I received your Sept./Oct. issue of 
Coastwatch today and found it most 
interesting. It's not often we get an 
entire issue of a magazine devoted to 
our history. I'm not one of the 
Carolina Indians, having just moved 
here about two years ago. But I do 
have friends here, and we share our 
history. I am a Shawnee/Cherokee 
elder. I am just learning that I may 
have some Choctaw blood on my 
grandfather's side. 

While you mentioned the fanfare 
and hoopla going on in the celebration 
of Columbus, you missed an opportu- 
nity to inform your readers of a more 
appropriate celebration to go with 
your Native American issue. I am 
very, very disturbed by this and find it 
most unpleasant that I must as a 
Native American call your attention to 
it. Never before have the American 
Indians been so honored. My friends, 
1992 was the "Year of the American 
Indian" as stated in public law 102- 
188 passed by Congress and signed by 
President Bush. I am respectfully 
asking those who contributed to this 
issue to write to me and explain why 
they could not include this. I am 
enclosing a copy of this proclamation. 

Pat Rollingcloud, Pittsboro, NC 

We did not mention the "Year of 
the American Indian" because our 
focus was very specific — Native 
Americans in coastal North Carolina, 
their past and present. 

Pictures Please 

Is it possible to get framed copies 
of your covers? I like the uptown 

Henri Franklin, Greensboro, NC 

Sorry, we don't offer framed copies 
of our covers. But you can contact the 
cover photographers for prints that 
you can frame yourself. If the cover 
photograph is taken by a Sea Grant 
staff person, then we'll be glad to have 
a print made for you at a minimal cost. 
But most of our cover photos are taken 
by freelance photographers, usually 
Scott Taylor or Michael Halminski. I 
feel sure they would be happy to sell 
you a print, and both take beautiful 
photographs. To contact Taylor or 
Halminski, write or call us at Sea 
Grant. We'll be glad to provide you 
with an address and phone number. 

Baffled By Regulations 

I have been a subscriber to 
Coastwatch for quite some time. I 
keep a boat at Wrightsville Beach and 
get to go fishing five to eight times a 
year. At times, I hear about various 
fishing laws and bag limits. However, 
I am not down there often enough to 
really know what these limits are or 
even which fish they pertain to. It 
would certainly be helpful for 
Coastwatch to occasionally publish a 
synopsis of such laws so that the 
occasional coastal fisherperson may be 
able to keep up to date. I completely 
enjoy Coastwatch and read every bit 
of each issue. The new format is out- 

J. Toms Dover, Charlotte, NC 

We certainly understand your di- 
lemma. Fishing regulations seem to 
change about as frequently as the 
weather. But Jim Bahen, a Sea Grant 
fisheries specialist, stays abreast of 
these regulations and the associated 
bag limits, size restrictions and 
seasons. He has a flyer, A Recre- 
ational Guide to Management of Fish 
in South Atlantic Waters, which lists 
the state and federal regulations for 
more than 25 species of recreationally 
caught fish. He updates the guide any 
time there are changes in regulations. 
The guide is free and yours for the 
asking. Just write Sea Grant, Box 
8605, N.C. State University, Raleigh, 
NC 27695. Ask for UNC-SG-89-06. 

As I mentioned earlier, we will be 
surveying Coastwatch readers to learn 
how you feel about our magazine. We 
plan to survey every fifth person on 
our zip-sorted mailing list of about 
3^00. That means we'll be sending 
out approximately 700 surveys. Each 
survey packet will include a letter, a 
survey form and a self-addressed, 
business-reply envelope. Your only 
cost will be the time it takes to fill out 
the survey. 

I urge you to be candid and 
thorough in completing the survey 
form. The information you provide 
will help us in several ways. First, 
we'll learn more about you and why 
you read our magazine. Second, we'll 
find out what you like and don't like 
about everything from our design to 
our selection of topics. We'll also ask 
for story suggestions. 

By surveying you, we hope to 
tailor Coastwatch to better meet your 
needs for information about the coast. 
If you don't receive a survey, but 
would like to comment, please write, 
and Til send you a survey form. 



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c oastwatch 

Coastwatch Staff: 

Kathy Hart, Managing Editor 

Jeannie Faris and Carla B. Burgess, 

Staff Writers and Editors 
L. Noble, Designer 
Debra Lynch, Circulation Manager 

The University of North Carolina Sea 
Grant College Program is a federal/state 
program that promotes the wise use of 
our coastal and marine resources 
through research, extension and 
education. It joined the National Sea 
Grant College Network in 1970 as an 
institutional program. Six years later, it 
was designated a Sea Grant College. 
Today, UNC Sea Grant supports 
several research projects, a 12-member 
extension program and three communi- 
cators. B.J. Copeland is director. The 
program is funded by the U.S. Depart- 
ment of Commerce's National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration and 
the state through the University of 
North Carolina. 

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Front cover photo of soft coral 
by Hardbottoms Project Team. 

Inside front cover photo of sea oats 
and surf by John R. Rottet. 

Printed on recycled paper 
by Highland Press Inc. in 
Fayetteville, N.C. 

r o m 

t h 


Dear Readers, 

This month, Coastwatch offers a potpourri of articles 
for your reading pleasure. 

First, Carla Burgess takes readers offshore to the 
continental shelf where she explores underwater natural 
reefs called hardbottoms. These underwater oases are the 
subject of a multidisciplinary Sea Grant project aimed at 
understanding the value of these reef ecosystems. 

Next, Jeannie Faris explains a new trend in recre- 
ational fishing — catch-and-release. This conservation- 
minded approach to sportfishing allows anglers to cast a 
line today while planning for tomorrow's catch. 

Finally, I'll treat you to a seafood dinner taken fresh 
from the freezer. I'll explain why quickly frozen top- 
quality fish and shellfish are sometimes preferable to the 

"fresh" seafood found in retail counters. 

Besides broadening the focus of Coastwatch this 
month, we're introducing a new department page in the 
back section. Coastal Commentary will appear sporadi- 
cally throughout the year and feature an editorial point of 
view by a writer qualified to speak on an issue of coastal 
concern. Sea Grant Coastal Water Quality Specialist 
Barbara Doll kicks off the new page with a look at the 
possibilities for an ocean outfall in North Carolina. 

We hope you enjoy our mixed bag of articles. And 
even better than that, we hope you learn something new. 

Don't forget to write us if you have comments or 

Until next issue, 

Kathy Hart 

In this i s s 

u e 

Page 3 

A Hard Rock Oasis Under The Sea ... 2 

Recycling Fish - The Right Thing to Do ... 8 

Fresher Than Fresh May Be Frozen ... 14 

Young Mariners 
Fish Prints - Art in the Ocean ... 20 

From Sound to Sea 

Water, Water Everywhere ... 21 

Marine Advice 
Sea Grant Agents are Talking TEDs ... 22 

Field Notes 
Soundside Sleuths ... 23 

Coastal Commentary 
Is North Carolina Ready for Ocean Outfalls? ... 24 

The Aft Deck ... 25 

Recycling Fish 
Page 8 

Fish Fatalities 
Page 23 


A Hard Rock Oasis 

Under T h 

S e 

By Carlo B. Burgess 

There's something exciting under 
the ocean floor off the coast of 
southeastern North Carolina. It's 
seeping from beneath beds of 
limestone, phosphate and other 
sedimentary rock 
that make up the 
continental shelf, 
and it may 
dissolve a perplex- 
ing mystery 
surrounding the 
abundance of 
marine life on 
rocky reefs known 
as hardbottoms. 

It's groundwa- 
ter, says Sea Grant 
researcher and 
East Carolina 
geologist Stan 
Riggs, and it has 
immersed scien- 
tists into a new 
understanding of 
these underwater 

For years, the 
productivity of the 
rocky seafloor outcroppings that 
occur throughout Onslow Bay — the 
coastal waters that extend from Cape 
Lookout to Cape Fear's Frying Pan 
Shoals — seemed a paradox. Some 
of the rocky hardbottoms are veri- 
table oases covered with algal 
meadows, sponges, soft whip corals, 
tropical fishes and territorial and 
predatory animals. These habitats 
provide shelter and food to sustain 

valuable commercial and recreational 
fish such as grouper and snapper, 
worth millions of dollars to the 
state's economy. More than 300 
species of fish and hundreds of 
thousands of invertebrates call these 

Hardbottoms Project Team 

reefs home. Yet, the waters above the 
shelf are often nutrient-poor; few 
coastal rivers empty into Onslow 
Bay, and most sediments are trapped 
in the sounds behind barrier islands 
and the nutrients used by estuarine 

"Biologists and chemical ocean- 
ographers for years have said there 
are more organisms out there than we 
can account for — there are not 

enough nutrients," says Riggs. 
"They've always known that nutri- 
ents came from upwellings below the 
Gulf Stream or down the rivers and 
out of the estuaries. But they analyze 
the water and don't find enough 

nutrients. Some 
researchers have 
concluded that 
there's got to be 
another source of 
nutrients, but 
nobody knew 
what that source 

The answer 
may lie in the 
discharges, which 
appear to be 
nutrients from the 
sedimentary rock 
and releasing 
ammonia and 
phosphorus into 
the water column. 

"What we've 
got is an in-house 
fertilizer system 
that's helping to make Onslow Bay 
very productive," says Riggs. 

Riggs and his colleagues will be 
unveiling their groundwater theory to 
the scientific community in papers to 
be submitted for publication this 
spring; other surprises are sure to 
follow. After all, little is known about 
the structure and function of hard- 
bottom habitats, and until recently, 
dollars for research were as scarce as 


the beach at high tide. 

The existence of hardbottoms has 
been no secret. For decades fisher- 
men have pursued the irregular 
topography with depth-finders, then 
anchored above these fertile fishing 
holes, hauling in grouper as long as 
their arms span. But as pressure has 
increased on these bountiful bottom- 
lands, the catch has shrunk in size 
and quantity. The majority of North 
Carolina's reef species are over- 
fished, and fisheries managers are in 
a quandary over how to preserve the 
resource. Size and bag limits are the 
extent of management so far, but the 
impact of these tactics is like trying 
to fend off a swarm of bees with a 

Gene Huntsman, reef resources 
and coastal pelagics team leader for 
the National Marine Fisheries 
Service's Southeast Fisheries Science 
Center in Beaufort, painted a bleak 
outlook for reef species at the 1992 
N.C. Marine Recreational Fishing 

"We try with basic regulations to 
protect reef fish, but many reef 
scientists are skeptical that we know 
enough to protect their populations 
by using ordinary means," he said in 
his address. "Reef fish don't exist as 
individuals. The species do not live 
isolated from others. They live in 
complex communities. 

"We have only fragmentary data 
on some species, and our models are 
very simplistic," says Huntsman. 
"We know that life histories of many 
animals are very complex and poorly 
understood. We know, for instance, 
that grouper change sex. They are 
born girls and become boys late in 
life. So an intense fishery that takes 
the old fish would remove the males 
from the population, perhaps to the 
detriment of the overall spawning 
success of the species." 

Grouper, one of the most sought 
after reef species, don't reach sexual 

maturity until six years and older; 
they can thrive to 20 or 30 years. 

While stocks dwindle, scientists 
are just beginning to get a close look 
at reef habitats and how they func- 

Meanwhile, the state has sunk 
more than 60 artificial reefs to the 
ocean's depths to create more habitat 
for snapper, grouper, king mackerel 
and black sea bass. Placement has 
often been arbitrary and recruitment 
poorly monitored; artificial reef 
managers aren't even sure if the 
structures actually foster productivity 
or merely lure fish from another reef. 

"In order to understand artificial 
reefs, we need to first understand the 
real reefs," says Riggs. 

With the multimillion-dollar 

resource of reef fish threatened, 
federal agencies have loosed the flow 
of dollars to study the hows and whys 
of hardbottoms. 

"As long as people were catching 
fish, noboby cared," says Riggs, who 
has been probing and pondering 
hardbottoms since 1964. "People 
now recognize the importance of 
hardbottoms; it's one of the 'in' 
things right now." 

Riggs assembled a multidisciplin- 
ary team of scientists to look at the 
interactive geology, biology and 
chemistry of hardbottom habitats. 
The team's research is funded by Sea 
Grant and the University of North 
Carolina at Wilmington's National 
Undersea Research Center, both 
programs of the National Oceanic 

and Atmospheric Administration, and 
the Cooperative Institute for Fisheries 
Oceanography, which is comprised 
of the University of North Carolina, 
Duke University and the National 
Marine Fisheries Service. 

"Our whole objective in putting 
this project together was to force the 
interaction between disciplines," says 
Riggs, whose principal investigative 
team includes fellow ECU paleon- 
tologist Scott Snyder and ECU 
biologist Will Ambrose, N.C. State 
University geological oceanographer 
Steve Snyder, UNC-W biologist 
Martin Posey and Florida State 
University geochemist Bill Burnett. 
"It's not unusual to do these interdis- 
ciplinary projects. What's unusual is 
to have it work." 

All hardbottom habitats aren't 
equally productive, and discovering 
the reasons for this is at the heart of 
the research team's mission. The 
scientists also want to know how 
much productivity an individual reef 
can sustain. There's more to attract- 
ing fish and other organisms than 
plopping a piece of rock down on the 
seafloor. You're always going to 
attract critters; but they'll only stay as 
long as there is food to eat. 

People who have never dove to 
the floor of Onslow Bay may have a 
hard time picturing the kind of reef 
habitats common to North Carolina. 
They probably never imagined that 
the richness and diversity typical of 
Florida's coral reefs exist here. 


People who have never dove to the floor of Onslow Bay 
may have a hard time picturing the kind of reef habitats 
common to North Carolina. They probably never imagined 
that the richness and diversity 
typical of Florida's coral reefs exist here. 


Stan Riggs (left) and Martin Posey on the deck of the research 
vessel Edwin Link. 

Though the large, branching reef 
corals are absent, many of the fish 
and invertebrates common to tropical 
reef systems — including the four- 


The edges 
of these 
channels are 
like cliffs, and 
the scarps — 
or cliff faces — 
produce the 
most produc- 
tive of hard- 
bottom habi- 
tats. As the 
rock beneath 
the limestone- 
capped mesas 
is undercut by 
boring marine animals, the edges of 
the top rock break off into slabs. 
These huge chunks of rock form a 
"rubble ramp" and provide more 

Some of the rocky hardbottoms are veritable oases 
covered with algal meadows, sponges, soft whip corals, 

tropical fishes and territorial and predatory animals. 
These habitats provide shelter and food to sustain valuable 
commercial and recreational fish such as grouper and snapper, 
worth millions of dollars to the state's economy. 

eyed butterfly fish and the blue 
damsel fish — are present. The main 
difference is that coral reefs are alive 
and accreting; hardbottoms are 
literally crumbling down, eroded by 
the action of boring organisms. 

Swim over much of Onslow Bay, 
and the seafloor resembles a desert 
— as far as the eye can see. But 
brush aside an inch or more of sand 
and you'll discover a hard rock floor 
beneath. Almost 90 percent of 
Onslow Bay is rock bottom, criss- 
crossed at wide intervals with the 
channels of ancient rivers that carved 
the mesas thousands of years ago. 
This part of the continental shelf lay 
exposed during periods of low sea 

surface area for increased habitat. 

"It's nothing to have rubble 
blocks 5 to 10 meters in diameter 
broken off out there in front — 
sometimes 100 meters out in front of 
a rock scarp," says Riggs. 

The nooks and crannies in and 
around the rubble become hiding 
places for many reef fish and inverte- 
brates such as arrow crabs and spiny 
lobsters; seaweeds such as brown 
sargassum or green calcareous algae 
attach to the rock surfaces, and 
boring animals gnaw into the 
substrate. And with the right combi- 
nation of crevices, ledges and 
overhangs come the grouper, black 
sea bass and other large predators, 

says Riggs. In the 1960s, before 
every fisherman and his brother had 
learned to scout out the high-profile 
scarps, Riggs commonly spotted 
packs of "freight-train" grouper with 
girths large enough to wrap your 
arms around. 

"Without (the bioerosion) you 
just get a vertical wall; you don't get 
any grouper," says Riggs. "But if you 
get the right shape of overhang on 
that complex, which is dependent 
upon the geology of the different 
hardbottom beds, you get the grouper 
ledges. If you want to think in terms 
of farming out there or habitat 
construction or modification, you 
have to understand these kinds of 
processes first." 

High-relief scarps — which rise 
from 10 to as much as 25 feet above 
the seafloor — are just one type of 
hardbottom community. Any place a 
rock substrate can get as little as 6 
inches relief above the abrasive, 
mobile bottom sands, some organ- 
isms can attach and prosper; but the 
higher the relief, the greater the 
productivity. Only about 10 percent 
of the floor of Onslow Bay is 
exposed reef rock, says Riggs. 

"Most of it is sand with abundant 
worms, some burrowing clams and 
vagrant animals such as starfish and 
sea cucumbers," he says. "The only 
place where it looks like a forest ... is 
where you get some topography and 

The research team boards the Johnson 
Sea-Link submersible. 

4 MARCH/ APRIL 1993 

Martin Posey lifts a hunk of rock 
collected by the submersible' s robotic 

morphology, and all of a sudden it 
goes bananas; the algae become very 

Set in motion by coastal storms 
such as northeasters, sediments in the 
extensive sand flats provide too harsh 
an environment for attached animals. 
Moving grains of sediment are as 
big as bowling balls to microscopic 
larvae trying to attach to a flat 
hardbottom, says Riggs. 

On land, plants grow in soil and 
gather nutrients from the ground. In 
the ocean, the rock provides the 
stable medium on which attached 
plants flourish, and the nutrients are 
absorbed from the surrounding 

"One of the things we're trying to 
get a handle on is how much sand is 
out there, how it's moving and how 
mobile it is. We don't know whether 
it moves in decades or moves with 
each storm," Riggs says. "There are 
many places where the scarps are 
totally buried." 

One way to increase biomass — 
the amount of living matter — is to 
remove the sand, re-expose the rock 
and use the sediment as a source of 
beach renourishment, he says. 

"Now the worm people squirm 
like crazy when I say that," says 
Riggs, adding that the sand substrate 
is important for worms and micro- 

"There've been a few biologists 
and geologists poking around on 

hardbottoms for a long time, but they 
didn't talk together," says Riggs. 
"Now when we go down and look at 
this stuff, we argue like crazy, and 
the biologists say, 'Wow, maybe 
there's something to the substrate 
control.' And the geologists say, 
'Wow, look at the role the animals 
are playing in the bioerosion.' It turns 
out the animals are very important, 
just chewing the hell out of these 
rocks. ... If I had to guess right now, I 
would say that some of those rock 
scarps out there are receding at the 
rate of a foot per decade. For a hard 
rock, that's pretty fast." 

"There are a lot of fish that use 
the hardbottom areas to feed or as a 
refuge from bigger fish — a place to 
hang out — and they leave these 
areas at night to feed in the surround- 
ing sand," says Ambrose. "So what 
we expect to see ... is sort of a halo of 
low food abundance around these 

"In other words, the fish don't go 
out forever because the farther they 
go out, the more likely they're going 
to become somebody's dinner," he 
says. "If the further we get away 
from these hardbottoms, the more 
food we find, then we know that 

The existence of hardbottoms has been no secret. 
For decades fishermen have pursued the irregular topography with 
depth-finders, then anchored above these fertile fishing holes, hauling 
in grouper as long as their arms span. 
But as pressure has increased on these bountiful bottomlands, 
the catch has shrunk in size and quantity. 

Another significant area of 
biological study is the benthic — or 
ocean bottom — sand community in 
the periphery of hardbottoms. Hard- 
bottom reefs were once thought of as 
islands that sustained themselves, but 
it turns out that 
the surrounding 
sand flats or 
areas may be 
critical in 
sustaining the 
foraging fauna. 
Maybe these 
worms and 
isms are 
significant to 
the food chain 
of reef species, 
says Ambrose. 

they're foraging a lot nearby and not 
so much far away." 

Designating reef reserve areas may 
become necessary to allow long-lived 
and older reproductive-age fish of 


(Left to right) Will Ambrose, Paul Renaud and Martin Posey 
in the lab. 


hardbottoms to reproduce. 
If there are strong nutri- 
tional links, then protec- 
tive zones may also be 
required in the surround- 
ing softbottom communi- 

Ambrose and Posey 
are also studying the 
organism development 
near the areas with 
groundwater seeps. Scott 
Snyder is studying several 
microscopic animals that 
inhabit the substrate, 
particularly foraminifera. 

The research team's 
scientific instruments are 
as simple as the sawed-off 
tops of 55-gallon drums 
modified to monitor flow 
of groundwater seepage 
and as sophisticated as the 
battery-powered submers- 
ible through which the 
scientists investigate, 
photograph, videotape and 
collect rocks, sediments, 
plants and animals. The 
168-foot research 
vessel Edwin-Link 
is the launching pad 
for the Florida- 
based Johnson Sea- 
Link submersible. 
The team is 
studying five 
diverse sites within 
Onslow Bay. The 
field work began in 
1991 and will continue through 1994 
under currently funded projects. 

Riggs worked with both Scott and 
Steve Snyder throughout the 1980s 
on a National Science Foundation- 
funded project to study the origins of 
the continental margin and associated 
phosphate sediment in Onslow Bay. 
Sea Grant also funded part of that 
project. It was then that the scientists 

Hardbottoms Project Team 

Another significant area of biological study is the benthic — 
or ocean bottom — sand community in the periphery oj 
hardbottoms. Hardbottom reefs were once thought 
of as islands that sustained themselves, but it turns out that the 
surrounding sand flats or u softbottom" areas may be critical 
in sustaining the system's foraging fauna. 

first got an inkling of the high levels 
of nutrients in groundwater leaking 
from the Miocene-age rock bottom 
and observed the spectacular reefs 
they are now studying. 

From that research, the team 
already had an extensive data set 
from Onslow Bay that included 
seismic profiles — or cross-sections 
— of the rock layers below the 

seafloor and side-scan 
sonar images, which when 
pieced together provide a 
graphic mosaic much like 
an aerial photograph of the 
ocean bottom. 

Steve Snyder is continu- 
ing to work with those and 
new data sets to map the 
habitats on the seafloor, as 
well as analyzing the 
nutrient chemistry of the 
water column and the seep 

The fifth research site, 
which will be studied this 
summer, is in an Oligo- 
cene-age area in the bay, 
where lithology — or rock 
formation — is completely 
different from the previous 
four study sites. It is a little 
bit west of the Miocene-age 
study sites, and it, too, 
likely has groundwater 

"The source of the 
nutrients in the seep fluid is 
unknown at this point," 
says Steve Snyder. 
"It could be coming 
from fertilized 
watersheds on the 
adjacent coastal 
plain. The dissolved 
nutrients then flow 
into the aquifer 
system and percolate 
to the surface 
someplace on the 
continental shelf. If 
that's the case, then we should see 
nutrient-enriched fluids in this Oligo- 
cene area as well." 

If the fluids are actually coming 
through the phosphate-rich units and 
stripping out soluble nutrients that 
were buried there 15 million years ago, 
then Snyder says the team should see a 
big difference between the fluid 
character seeping out of the Miocene 

6 MARCH /APRIL 1993 

(phosphate-rich) and Oligocene (not 
phosphatic) study sites. 

"There are lots of different 
sources the nutrients can be coming 
from, and the next five years will 
help us determine which sources are 
important and how significant they 
are to primary productivity in shelf 
waters on a global basis," Snyder 

"Can they co-exist?" says Snyder. 
"Can we actually enhance the 
primary productivity of this area by 
creating new hard substrate? The 
nutrient story is going to be the 
answer to that." 

Another relevant question is 
whether hardbottom habitats could be 
improved by removing sand, which 
could then supply extensive beach 

Designating reef reserve areas may become necessary 
to allow long-lived and older reproductive-age fish 
of hardbottoms to reproduce, if there are strong nutritional links, 
then protective zones may also be required 
in the surrounding softbottom communities. 

All of these variables will factor 
into future economic ventures in this 
area. Snyder says the value of the 
phosphate beneath Onslow Bay may 
equal or outweigh the value of the 
material being mined by Texasgulf 
Inc. in Aurora. Beaufort County's 
phosphate mining constitutes a 
significant portion of the world's 
phosphate resource. 

With the world population 
expected to double again in less than 
30 years, phosphate to fertilize crops 
will be critical, he says. A choice 
will have to be made whether to 
extract ore from the estuaries, where 
mining activities disrupt and con- 
taminate finfish and shellfish 
nursery areas, or to move activity 
offshore, says Snyder. 

The team's research may shed 
light on the interaction between the 
"live" benthic resources and the 
underlying hard mineral resources. 
In other words, asks Snyder, could 
the disruption from phosphate 
mining create prolific, high-relief 
hardbottom habitats? Could new 
natural reefs be artificially created 
by breaking up the rock surfaces 
now covered by mobile sands? 

renourishment in areas such as 
Carolina and Wrightsville beaches. 
The sand used in today's projects 
comes from nearby inlets. But these 
new shelf deposits could be a viable 
source of new beach sediment for 
renourishment, Riggs says. 

"But first you have to understand 
the system. How important are 
sandbottoms to hardbottoms? And at 
some point in time, some judgment 
has to be made on what you want to 
manage for. That's what farming 
does; you eliminate the woodlands 
and you cultivate the cornfields. 

"Our goal is to understand the 
processes, so we can have some 
sound basis for making some 
decisions," says Riggs. "This is 
pioneering work. We're opening 
doors, and every time we go down 
to the bottom we learn something 
new about what's going on down 
there. It's sort of mind-boggling. 

"It has to be like ... in the 1800s 
when the early scientists went out 
West, across the plains and to the 
Rocky Mountains, and described 
those areas for the first time," he 
says. "That's what it's like going out 
on the shelf." □ 

To get a true picture of 
Onslow Bay hardbottoms, 
you might dress out in 
SCUBA gear and dive to the 
ocean depths, if you prefer a 
tamer — but still colorful — 
adventure, send for a copy of 
Sea Grants hardbottom 
distribution poster and fishing 

This 39-by-27-inch poster 
is a guide to the natural 
offshore reefs between Cape 
Lookout and Cape Fear. The 
flip side of the poster features 
five four-color paintings of the 
reefs, it is an excellent educa- 
tion tool for showing various 
hardbottom habitats and their 
flora and fauna. 

For a copy, send $5 to 
Sea Grant Publications, Box 
8605, NCSU, Raleigh, NC 
27695. Ask for UNC-SG-8&25. 

And stay tuned for an 
undersea journey through 
these hard rock oases via an 
upcoming Sea Grant educa- 
tional video. 


Right Thin 

Zfy Jeannie Faris 

These days, conservation is "in." 

It shows in our attention to recy- 
cling, carpooling, saving water and 
reduced product packaging. And it's 
casting new appeal in the sport of 
fishing with the catch-and-release 

For ages, the creed of the honor- 
able sportsman has been to respect the 
quarry, limit the take and use the 
remains in a productive way. He 
lowers his rod with an eye toward 
preserving the population for another 

But fishing, like hunting duck and 
deer, is above all else a sport for many 
who sink a line off the North Carolina 
coast. And though sportfishermen 
frequently make a meal of their catch, 
they take to the water to enjoy the 
outdoors and a good fight with a lively 

That fish, however, can be recycled 
with a few catch-and-release skills. 

Rather than dropping it into a 
cooler or leaving it for dead on the 
shore, an angler returns the fish to the 
water and takes steps to ensure that it 
can survive to spawn and perhaps bite 
another angler's hook another day. 

It's more than good sportsmanship, 
supporters say. It's an investment in 
the fast return to the sport of fishing. 
Otherwise, the trends toward dwin- 
dling stocks and growth in fishing spell 
doom for the sport. 

"No one has a problem with 
someone taking home enough fish for 
him to eat," says Jim Murray, director 
of the Sea Grant Marine Advisory 

Service. "But the days of catching 
more than you can eat to bring back to 
the dock and brag about are over." 

Anglers are more conservation- 
minded now, perhaps because they can 
see for themselves that the stocks are 

For ages, the creed of the 
honorable sportsman has been 
to respect the quarry, limit the 
take and use the remains in a 
productive way. He lowers his 
rod with an eye toward 
preserving the population 
for another day. 

declining, Murray says. The success of 
a trip is no longer gauged by the 
number of fish in the cooler at the end 
of the day. The smaller fish go back 
into the water. 

Even so, the quality of recreational 
fishing is not what it used to be, says 
Bo Nowell, president of the N.C. 
chapter of the Atlantic Coast Conserva- 
tion Association (ACCA-NC). In the 
late 1970s, Nowell trekked to Ocracoke 
every May to catch gray trout. The 
Cary sportfisherman no longer does 

"There's no reason to," he says. 
"The fish are so small. They're fewer 
and harder to catch. And when you 

catch them, why keep them? I don't 
want a 10- or 1 1-inch fish. And I 
don't want to kill the bigger fish 
because they support the population." 

Nowell began "preaching the 
gospel" about catch-and-release after 
1988, when he saw a fellow at 
Oregon Inlet cleaning spots hardly 
more than 4 inches long. Perhaps the 
man had children who caught them, 
he says, but a lesson in catch-and- 
release would be more appropriate 
than killing undersized fish. 

Obviously, the complexities of 
fishing ethics run deep. What is right 
or enough varies from person to 
person, and it's hard to get anglers to 
practice catch-and-release when they 
often don't abide by the legal limits 
on some fish, Nowell says. 

Sometimes anglers just get caught 
up in the excitement of the moment, 
keeping more fish than they could 
possibly use. But this type of behav- 
ior is also a reflection of entrenched 
values, which are sometimes difficult 
to change. 

Education — to change attitudes 
and destructive behavior — has 

As recently as the early and mid- 
1980s, the catch-and-release ethic 
hadn't caught on in North Carolina. 
Nowell remembers seeing trophy- 
sized red drum hanging from scales at 
every tackle shop from Avon to 

"They were every place you 
turned. We used to call them dead 
drum," he says. "People were proud 
to have caught a large fish. They got a 


picture and left it for dead because it 
was a big fish. It's not as good to eat 
(as the smaller fish)." 

Angler attitudes have since im- 
proved. But the stakes today are higher 
than ever because the stocks of fish 
living off North Carolina's coast are 
dwindling. The causes are multiple: 
pollution of the waters and nursery 
areas, habitat destruction and overfish- 

Meanwhile, the sport is growing in 
popularity, says Ron Schmied, special 
assistant for recreational fisheries in 
the Southeast regional office of the 
National Marine Fisheries Service. 

There was a threefold increase in 
national saltwater sportfishing between 
1955 and 1985, he says. And that 
demand is expected to increase nation- 
ally by 36 percent between 1985 and 
2025. In the Southeast, where outings 
and catch accounted for half of the 
nation's fishing activity in 1991, the 

Rather than dropping it into 
a cooler or leaving it for dead 

on the shore, an angler 
returns the fish to the water 
and takes steps to ensure that 
it can survive to spawn and 
perhaps bite another angler's 
hook another day. 

projected increase is closer to 45 

The situation is compounded by the 
fact that a stunning majority of fisher- 
men are not even bringing their catch 
to dock. 

Throughout the Southeast in 1991, 
only 26 percent of fish caught were 

actually landed, brought to shore and 
used, Schmied says. When you con- 
sider that 201 million fish were caught 
in the Southeast in 1991, that means 
roughly 149 million fish were hooked 
but not brought to shore. They were 
either cast overboard dead, used for bait 
or released. 

Landing rates for popular species 
are higher, but the big picture is clear. 
All of this would be great news if 
anglers were using catch-and-release 
skills to return their unkept catch to the 
sea. But people like Schmied are 
doubtful. They wonder what happens to 
the fish that weren't landed and 
whether anglers understand that the 
way they handle a fish determines 
whether it will survive. 

"We want to change angler beliefs 
such that they understand that their 
actions can have a tremendous effect on 
the resource and that they make a 



voluntary decision not to waste any 
more fish, Schmied says. 

"If anglers were taught how to 
catch-and-release, then roughly three- 
quarters of the fish they catch could be 
put back alive to be caught again 
another day and to spawn and speed up 
the rebuilding of the fish stocks." 

The argument in favor of catch- 
and-release is that fish, large or small, 
are not totally expendable. Small fish 
need a chance to spawn. And remov- 
ing the larger, prolific fish from the 
water shifts the profile of the popula- 
tion and reduces its ability to repro- 

"Once fish become spawners, one 
large adult spawner puts out more eggs 
than do maybe 20, 100 or 200 of the 
younger ones, depending on the 
species and size," Schmied says. 

The reality, however, is that many 
anglers believe they aren't part of the 
problem. It's hard to understand the 
cumulative impact when each fisher- 
man sees himself as taking only a few 
at a time. 

Rather, they have a "we 
vs. they" attitude, and they 
view commercial fishermen, 
developers and water 
polluters as the real culprits, 
Schmied says. In the early 
1980s, many anglers were 
convinced commercial gill- 
netters were singularly to 
blame for overfishing the 
king mackerel stock in the 
Southeast. But analysis of 
catch statistics showed 
anglers accounted for 70 
percent of the king mackerel 
harvest, Schmied says. 

"I work for an agency 
that is responsible for 
managing marine fisheries. 
We have to look at who's 
catching what, recreational 

The argument in favor of 
catch-and-release is that fish, 
large or small, are not totally 
expendable. Small fish need 

a chance to spawn. And 
removing the larger, prolific 
fish from the water shifts the 
profile of the population and 
reduces its ability to reproduce. 

and commercial fishermen," Schmied 
says. "And you realize quickly there's 
a big disparity between angler percep- 
tion of their effect on a resource and 
the statistics." 

In a battle waged from the nation's 
Capitol to town halls, recreational and 
commercial fishermen are locked in a 

Trends in the Recreational Fishery in the Southeast 




79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 

• Total Catch ■ Trips 

Source: Angler Conservation Education Task Force 

struggle over who gets what share of a 
disappearing resource. And as sport- 
fishermen criticize the commercial 
industry's bycatch problems, the 
commercial fishermen are pointing 
out recreational wastes. 

It's not uncommon for some anglers 
to catch species in excess of bag limits 
and discard all but the largest fish at 
the end of their trip to comply with the 
limit, according to a draft report 
prepared by the Angler Conservation 
Education Task Force. 

The task force was assembled 
by Schmied to develop a plan for 
promoting effective angler involve- 
ment in fisheries management, 
personal stewardship and new norms 
of responsible fishing. The report says 
catch-and-release fishing skills are 
becoming increasingly important as 
more species become regulated and as 
non-wasteful fishing practices become 
more accepted. In effect, nearly all 
sportfishermen should practice catch- 
and-release at some time if they're 
abiding by the law. 

"In most areas of the 
South Atlantic and Gulf, 
there has been a virtual 
explosion of fishing 
regulations, which means 
you have to release fish that 
don't meet the size limits or 
the bag limits, or when 
there's a closed season, 
Schmied says. 

"So the question is, 
when an angler says he 
released it, did he really 
release it with skill so the 
fish had a chance of 
survival, or did he just toss 
it over the side?" 

A pioneer of saltwater 
catch-and-release programs, 
Schmied launched a cam- 
paign 10 years ago to 

1 MARCH/ APRIL 1993 

educate anglers about their 
impact on the stocks and how to 
properly return fish to the water. 
The effort would be a success, he 
says, if it approaches the effec- 
tiveness of the Smokey Bear 
and seat belt campaigns in 
changing behaviors. 

"I think that because fish 
stocks have declined to the 
extent that they have, people are 
beginning to recognize some- 
thing is wrong, that maybe they 
are part of the problem and need 
to be part of the solution," he 

The first task is to sensitize 
people to the issues. Then, 
provide information they can use 
to evaluate their own beliefs 
about these issues. By changing 
their beliefs, voluntary behavior 
changes are more likely to occur. 

Schmied says he targets the 
segment of the sportfishing commu- 
nity that understands the issue. These 
are "change agents," highly visible 
and credible, and by their example on 
the water, they can help others to see 
the value in catch-and-release. 

"Like the charter captain who 
tells a client to release fish and shows 
him how to do it," Schmied says. 
"That captain is held in a position of 
esteem by the fishermen. So when he 
displays proper handling, others will 
follow suit." 

Avid anglers, however, are more 
likely to change their behavior than 
younger or less experienced fisher- 
men, the task force study says. 

Nowell agrees most fishermen go 
through an ethical progression of 
behavior before they're ready to 
release their catch. When they are 
young or inexperienced, they tend to 
keep every fish caught, big or small. 
They want to fill the cooler because 

1991 - 1992 Catch-and-Release Comparisons 
N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament 



















Red Drum 







Blue Marlin 







White Marlin 





















Source: N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries 

to them, a great day equals a cooler full 
of fish. 

"For these anglers, the benefits of 
landing and retaining their catch is 
paramount," according to the angler 
conservation report. "They are more 
concerned with today and expect fish to 
be available tomorrow." 

At some point, however, they start 
to throw back the fish that are too small. 
And that's when the conservation voice 
begins to speak to them, Nowell says. 
With maturity and experience, fisher- 
men learn to respect the resource. 

In a battle waged from the 
nation's Capitol to town halls, 
recreational and commercial 
fishermen are locked in a 
struggle over who gets 

what share of a 
disappearing resource. 

"It's that natural growth, 
maturing, that when you go 
fishing, you don't go necessarily 
to kill fish," he says. "You do 
occasionally because they're 
great to eat. But you go for the 
enjoyment. And after you catch a 
number of fish, it becomes a 
whole lot more fun to let them 

The task of changing anglers' 
behavior is monumental, but 
there are reasons to be optimistic. 

In North Carolina last year, 
2,151 fish (amberjack, cobia, red 
drum, blue marlin, white marlin, 
sailfish and tarpon) were released 
in the yearlong saltwater fishing 
tournament, compared to 1,355 
in 1991, according to the N.C. 
Division of Marine Fisheries 

And in Louisiana, a 1990 survey 
conducted by Louisiana State Univer- 
sity and the state Wildlife and Fisher- 
ies Department showed that 75 percent 
of fishermen polled would attend 
fishing clinics. 

This finding is significant, 
Schmied says, because Louisiana 
anglers tend to be consumption- 
oriented, fiercely independent and 
great seafood lovers. In other words, 
it's a "sportsman's paradise," he says. 

The survey also gauged saltwater 
anglers' interest in topics for fishing 
clinics. Between 68 and 87 percent of 
fishermen rated the following topics as 
moderately to extremely beneficial: 
fish identification, fisheries manage- 
ment, care and handling, fishing 
regulations, fishing methods, fish 
biology and fishing ethics. 

And a resounding 92 percent of 
respondents wanted a publication on 
fishing regulations. 

"These responses indicate to me 



that the angling community seems to 
be increasingly receptive to informa- 
tion and educational efforts to help 
them do the right thing," Schmied 

Nowell says he's seen the same 
evolution in North Carolina. 

"I'm impressed to see fishermen 
on the beach catching big fish and 
releasing them," he says. "To some 
extent, it's the future of fishing. But 
more than that, it's the right thing to 

Tournaments are also riding the 
tide of conservatism. Although some 
billfish contests with prizes and 
enormous cash pools still call for the 
prizewinning catch to be killed, many 
North Carolina tournaments are 
promoting catch-and-release. They 
document the catch using onboard 
observers, measuring boards and 
Polaroid cameras, or they use the 
honor system. 

Part of the change is due to an 
enlightened view of fishing and 

By their actions, fishermen 
either improve or damage 
the status of the stocks. 
Releasing them with 
catch-and-release skills 
and researching their 
populations are the best way 
to restore their numbers. 

attention to public relations; part is 
necessity when quotas have been met 
in a particular fishery. But either way, 
catch-and-release tournaments plant 
the seed of conservation in the mind of 
anglers and onlookers, says Murray of 
Sea Grant. 

"The movement in the last 10 years 
was led in part by the sportfishing 
community to become more conserva- 

tion-minded," Murray says. "The 
days of the old marlin tournaments, 
back 15 years ago, when they'd kill 
the fish, bring it in, take a picture and 
throw it in the dumpster, are gone." 

King mackerel tournaments, for 
their part, have raised the minimum 
size limits to 28 inches, and some- 
times 30 inches, Nowell says. The 
federal regulation is 20 inches. And 
aggregate prizes — rewarding the 
angler who hooked the five largest 
and heaviest fish — are a thing of 
the past. 

This year, Wilmington will host 
the nation's only tag-and-release king 
mackerel tournament, sponsored by 
the ACCA-NC, says Kurt Fickling, 
past president of the ACCA-NC and 
tournament organizer. The May 22 
contest will be an honor tournament 
with 150 boats fishing and no prizes 
— just prestige. 

"All (other) king mackerel 
tournaments are based on the largest 
fish," says Fickling. "So if you catch 

1 2 MARC HI APRIL 1993 

a 30- to 40-pound fish, you've got to 
bring it in; you've got to kill it. That's 
what we're trying to get away from." 

A release in the ACCA tournament 
will garner an angler five points; a tag- 
and-release, 10 points. 

Tagging is important to fisheries 
management because it helps identify 
migratory stocks and growth rates. For 
instance, research has suggested that 
the entire North Carolina king mack- 
erel population may not migrate to 
Florida in the winter, as once believed. 

Most appear to stay off the North 
Carolina shore. And establishing these 
patterns can work to the advantage of 
Tar Heel fishermen because now local 
stocks are regulated with the entire 
South Atlantic. An overfishing problem 
in Florida, for example, might not 
justify the closure of an unaffected 
population this far north, Nowell says. 

The king mackerel tagging program 
is in its infancy in North Carolina, says 
Randy Gregory, a DMF technician. 
About 105 fish were tagged last year, 

the program's first, but interest is 
picking up. It's in the anglers' best 
interest to learn more about where these 
fish migrate and how they live, he says. 

And above all, anglers should keep 
in mind that they can be fisheries 
managers, Schmied says. By their 
actions, fishermen either improve 
or damage the status of the stocks. 
Releasing them with catch-and-release 
skills and researching their populations 
are the best ways to restore their 
numbers. □ 


Most released fish can survive, 
contrary to traditional angler lore. 
Fishermen simply need to learn how to 
release the fish properly to reduce 
stress and wounding, which are the two 
major causes of angling mortality. 

Here's how to begin: 

♦ Land your quarry quickly; don't 
play it to exhaustion. Stress is caused 
by exertion fighting the rod, which 
allows lactic acid to accumulate in a 
fish's muscles. 

♦ Set the hook immediately. Try to 
prevent a fish from swallowing the 

♦ Work a fish out of deep water 
slowly so it can adjust to the pressure 

♦ Use hooks that are barbless and 
made from metals that rust quickly. 
Baited hooks are more likely to cause 
serious injuries than lures. 

♦ Always keep your release tools 

When handling the catch: 

♦ Leave the fish in the water if 
possible, and don't handle it. Use a tool 
to remove the hook or cut the leader. 

♦ Keep the fish from thrashing. 

♦ Net your catch only if you cannot 
control it any other way. 

♦ When you must handle a fish: 
use a wet glove or rag to hold it, turn 
it on its back or cover its eyes with a 
wet towel to calm it, don't put your 
fingers in the eyes or gills, avoid 
removing mucus or scales, get it 
back into the water as quickly as 

♦ Larger fish can be kept in the 
water by holding the leader with a 
glove or by slipping a release gaff 
through the lower jaw. 

♦ Protect against personal injury 
by handling each fish carefully and 

When removing the hook: 

♦ Cut the leader close to the mouth 
if a fish has been hooked deeply or if 
the hook can't be removed quickly. 

♦ Back the hook out the opposite 
way it went in. 

♦ Use needle-nose pliers, hemo- 
stats or a hookout to work the hook 
and protect your hands. 

♦ For a larger fish in the water, slip 
a gaff around the leader and slide it 
down the hook. Lift the gaff upward 
as you pull downward on the leader. 

♦ Do not jerk or pop a leader to 
break it. This damages vital organs 
and kills the fish. 

The final moments before release: 

♦ Place the fish in the water 

gently, supporting its midsection and 
tail until it swims away. 

♦ Resuscitate an exhausted fish by 
moving it back and forth or tow it 
alongside the boat to force water 
through its gills. 

♦ Use an ice pick, needle or hook 
point to puncture the expanded air 
bladder on a fish taken from deep 

♦ Watch your quarry to make sure 
it swims away. If it doesn't, recover 
the fish and try again. 

♦ Remember, a released fish has 
an excellent chance of survival when 
handled carefully and correctly. 

Catch-and-release, however, may 
not be as effective on every species. 
The deeper the water a fish is pulled 
from, the higher the mortality due to 
injuries caused by decompression. 
Reef fish, for instance, live in 50 to 
200 feet of water. 

Deflating these deep-dwelling fish 
is better than leaving them floating on 
the surface, where they're susceptible 
to predation and exposure to the sun. 

It's the same principle as leaving 
the hook in a gut-hooked fish. Sure, it 
isn't the ideal situation, but at least 
the fish has a chance. 

Adapted from tips by the National 
Marine Fisheries Seirice 



By Kathy Hart 

If you want to serve the freshest 
flounder or cod possible for dinner, 
then you may want to bypass the 
fresh seafood counter for the frozen 
food section. 

What? Bypass that supple white 
flounder fillet lying atop a bed of ice 
in the fresh seafood counter for a 
frosty fillet boxed in the frozen food 

Yes. If properly frozen and 
thawed, that frozen flounder fillet 
may be superior in flavor, texture 
and freshness to a "fresh" fish that 
has passed along the distribution 
chain, says Joyce Taylor, Sea Grant's 
seafood consumer agent. 

In some instances, that "fresh" 
fish has been out of the water five to 
10 days. It has taken a journey from 
the fishing vessel to the grocery store 
that includes stops at the processor/ 
packing house, distributor and 
supermarket warehouse. 

However, a good quality frozen 
fish can be rendered stiff and frosty 
within hours of hoisting it from the 
water. And even better, some fish 
and shellfish are frozen almost 
immediately upon harvest onboard 
the fishing vessel. 

By freezing freshly caught 
seafood in prime condition and 
holding it at very cold temperatures, 
processors can lock in the high 
quality that consumers demand. In 
fact, much of the raw fish dished up 
in Japan's popular sushi bars has 
been previously frozen. But most 
people assume it is fresh because of 
its impeccable quality. 

Likewise, some fish and shellfish 
sold in supermarket counters and 
seafood displays have been previ- 
ously frozen and thawed by grocers. 
It is placed alongside fresh product, 
and often consumers are never the 

Many retailers may not label the 
fish as previously frozen or volunteer 

this information unless asked 
because frozen fish has such a poor 
image in the minds of consumers. 

For years, some processors, 
distributors and retailers resorted to 
freezing fish and shellfish that didn't 
sell on the "fresh" market, and often 
that seafood teetered on the verge 
of spoilage. Freezing of marginal 
quality fish offered one last opportu- 
nity for distributors to recoup their 
costs and sell their products to 

But that practice backfired. 
Consumers caught on, and frozen 
seafood lost favor. 

A good quality frozen 
fish can be rendered 
stiff and frosty within 
hours of hoisting it 
from the water. 

Then came the 1980s, the decade 
of "freshness." 

Supermarket chains hurried to 
install fresh seafood counters, where 
mounds of shellfish, layers of fish 
fillets and stacks of seafood steaks 
were laid out on beds of chipped ice 
and adorned with parsley and 

"There was a fresh hysteria in the 
mid-1980s," says Tyre Lanier, a Sea 
Grant researcher in the N.C. State 
University food science department. 
"The airlines promised to deliver 
fresh fish anywhere in the country in 
a matter of hours. And they could. 
But they squashed any effort to 
promote frozen seafood, which in 
my opinion is a more sane way to 
handle fish and shellfish." 

But just because the only frozen 
seafood bought directly by consum- 
ers was breaded fish sticks and 

Live Atlantic blue crabs enter CryoTech Industries. 

Workers place crabs on an automated backing machine that 
removes the crabs' backs, viscera and gill feathers. 

shrimp doesn't mean that the 
fisherman's catch wasn't hitting 
the freezer. 

Quite the opposite. 

More fish and shellfish were 
handled frozen than fresh. Super- 
market chains and restaurants 
bought large quantities of frozen 
product, thawed it and sold it to 
customers, and people ate it up 
without so much as a thought of the 

At least some processors in the 
seafood industry had learned their 
lesson. They were freezing prime 
quality seafood faster and using 
better equipment to do it with. 

About this time, seafood con- 
sumption skyrocketed as nutrition- 
ists and dietitians touted fish and 
shellfish as a high quality source of 
protein that was low in fat and 
cholesterol. Meeting the steady 
demand for the catch of the day 

meant freezing became an industry 

And freezing certainly offers the 
seafood industry several advantages. 

It stabilizes supply and price. It 
means seafood can be distributed 
using ships, trains and trucks rather 
than the more expensive air service. 
It helps grocers and restaurateurs to 
buy in bulk at substantial savings. 
And it permits the flood of foreign 


A: Some in the seafood industry 
question the use of the word "fresh" 
to describe a fish that hasn't seen the 
ocean in more than a week. 

In many cases, distributors and 
retailers use fresh to mean a fish that 
has never been frozen or processed, 
not as a measure of the time since its 
harvest and, hence, its quality. 

But consumers think differently, 
and they are often misled by the use 
of the word. Many shoppers stead- 
fastly believe that "fresh" indicates a 

fish was recently harvested. 

Frequently, however, that's just 
not the case, and not surprisingly, 
many grocers and retailers have no 
idea how old their seafood products 
are. They receive them in their 
stores, slap a three-day pull date on 
the package and rotate them onto the 

But Sea Grant researcher Tyre 
Lanier would like to change that. In 
his N.C. State University food 
science laboratory, Lanier has begun 

experimenting with a simple test 
strip to evaluate fish for degrees of 

If developed, the strip could help 
wholesalers and retailers distinguish 
acceptable from unacceptable quality 
seafood and to predict how long a 
product can be expected to remain 
fresh at a given temperature. 

Then, retailers could more 
accurately label their "fresh" seafood 
products. E 


seafood imports needed to satisfy an 
American hunger for the ocean's 
bounty that outstrips domestic 

In short, freezing is a more 
efficient, more economical and now 
a more quality-conscious way to sell 

But how do processors produce a 
high quality frozen product? 

"They plan ahead," says David 
Green, Sea Grant's seafood technol- 
ogy specialist. "They use appropriate 
handling and freezing techniques 
with prime quality fish or shellfish. 
Freezing is their intention from the 
beginning; they don't use freezing as 
a salvage method." 

In freezing seafood. Green says it 
is imperative to lower the tempera- 
ture on seafood quickly because ice 
crystals will form as water in the 
flesh freezes. These ice crystals can 
tear the flesh, thus affecting the 
textural quality of the fish. So 
processors strive to drop the internal 
temperature of seafood as fast as 
possible, particularly in the zone of 
crystalization between 32 F and 
22 F. 

Once seafood is frozen, keeping 

it consistently cold is also important. 
Fish and shellfish must be kept 
below zero, preferably below -10 F 
to maintain quality. Your home 
freezer holds foods between zero and 
10 F; commercial freezers, between 
-10 F and -20 F. The Japanese, who 
have a partiality for quality seafood, 
store their minced fish at -30 F and 
their sushi-grade tuna at a frigid 
-80 F. 

Inside the freezer, frozen fish 
and shellfish can come up against 

By freezing 

freshly caught seafood 

in prime condition 

and holding it at 

very cold temperatures, 

processors can lock in 

the high quality that 

consumers demand. 

another problem: freezer bum or 
dehydration. Processors commonly 
prevent this problem by water 
glazing or using a moisture-barrier 
film or vacuum pouch. 

Dehydration presents a problem 
for anyone who freezes, be it the 
home cook or the food processor, 
because of the mechanics of freezer 
technology. Freezers are designed to 
remove the heat, or thermal energy, 
from products by using compounds 
called refrigerants that boil at very 
low temperatures. 

Liquid refrigerants, usually freon 
or ammonia, are pumped into a 
freezer through evaporation coils. 
Since refrigerants boil at tempera- 
tures well below zero, they vaporize 
inside the coils, which are exposed to 
the relatively warm confines of the 

As the refrigerant vaporizes into 
a gas, it absorbs heat. The heat- 
absorbed gas is pumped back to the 
compressor to be liquefied under 
very high pressure in the condenser 
coils. This compression process 
generates heat, and that's why the 
back or bottom of the freezer is 
always warm. 


But by drawing heat from 
products, moisture can be pulled out 
too. The tiny water crystals frozen 
inside the flesh of fish will evaporate, 
leaving thousands of tiny spongelike 
holes behind. When thawed, an 
unprotected fish that has dehydrated 
will be chewy, tough and possibly 
rancid because the tiny holes allowed 
oxygen to penetrate the fish and react 
with fats and proteins. 

To prevent these problems, most 
processors glaze their frozen products 
with a thin layer of ice that will 
evaporate without damaging the fish, 
or they package the seafood, creating 
a barrier that doesn't allow moisture 
out or oxygen in. 

To lower the temperature on 
seafood in a matter of minutes, 
processors can use any number of 
freezing methods. And they choose 
their method based on the type of 
product they are freezing. 

For freezing fillets and minced 

In short, 
freezing is a 
more efficient, 
more economical 
and now a more 
quality-conscious way 
to sell seafood. 

fish, most processors use plate or 
drum freezers. For plate freezers, 
refrigerants are pumped through 
metal plates that are pressed directly 
against a block of minced fish or a 5- 
pound wax carton of fillets for a 
quick freeze. In the case of drum 
freezers, thin fillets or minced fish 
are placed on the outside surface of a 

chilled, revolving drum and scraped 
off when frozen. 

Blast freezers work as their name 
suggests by freezing whole, large or 
irregularly shaped fish with a super- 
cold blast of air of about -40 F in an 
insulated room. Fish are loaded and 
unloaded in the freezing room for 
each blast cycle. Air circulation is 
critical, and dehydration can be a 

The spiral and tunnel freezers are 
variations of the blast freezer that 
eliminate dehydration problems 
because products are frozen so 
quickly. In the tunnel, fillets ride 
along a continuously moving mesh 
conveyer to be individually quick 
frozen (IQF). 

In immersion freezers, processors 
dip irregularly shaped seafood into a 
very cold heavy brine. The immersed 
fish or shellfish freeze rapidly 
because heavily salted water doesn't 


Buying and Thawing Vfozen Seafood 

When it comes to buying frozen 
seafood, Joyce Taylor, Sea Grant's 
seafood consumer agent, has the 
following tips. 

If possible, look for signs of 
freezer burn that usually appear as 
light colored spots. Check for 
rancidity by smelling the frozen 
product and by looking for yellow 
discoloration of fatty areas. 

Good quality frozen seafood 
should have few ice crystals in the 
package, and the grocer should have 
it stored below the freezing line in 
the freezer case. 

Read the frozen seafood package. 
Check to see if the processor offers 
information about how the product 
was handled or frozen. Does the 
processor suggest methods for 

thawing and preparation? Processors 
who offer such information are 
usually committed to a quality 

Learn to identify brand names 
and return to purchase those brands 
that consistently deliver high quality 
frozen seafood. 

To thaw seafood, place it in the 
refrigerator. A 1 -pound package 
will defrost overnight. 

For quicker thawing, place 
seafood under cold running water. 
Whole shellfish, such as shrimp or 
clams, can be placed in a colander 
with cold water running over them. 
Place dressed seafood, such as fillets 
or shucked shellfish, in a tightly 
closed plastic bag, then immerse 
them in a deep pan of cold water. 

Never thaw seafood at room 
temperature or with hot or warm 
water because you could encourage 
the growth of harmful bacteria. 

When using your microwave to 
thaw fish, defrost at about 30 percent 
power. Follow the manufacturer's 
instructions to determine defrosting 
time (a pound of fillets defrosts in 
about five to six minutes). 

Fish defrosted in the microwave 
should be cooked immediately after 

If you're buying previously 
frozen fish or shellfish from your 
grocer, Taylor advises consumers to 
ask how long it has been since the 
seafood was thawed, and as always, 
use your nose to check for the odors 
of spoilage. El 


David Green 

Sam Thomas 

freeze until well below the freezing 
point for pure water. 

For the fastest freeze possible, 
processors turn to cryogenic technol- 
ogy. This more expensive freezing 
method uses ultracold liquid nitrogen 
or carbon dioxide to drop the temp- 
erature on fish and shellfish in a 
matter of seconds. 

The product passes along a 
conveyor belt through a cryogenic 
tunnel where liquid nitrogen or 
carbon dioxide is sprayed. As the 
liquid vaporizes in the air, it picks up 
heat from the product, leaving behind 
one of the best frozen products you 
can find, says Sam Thomas of 
CryoTech Industries Inc. 

Just outside of Aurora, Thomas 
runs CryoTech, which specializes in 
cryogenically freezing Atlantic blue 
crab — whole and in half-clusters. 
Blue crabs enter his plant alive and 
kicking and pass down a series of 
conveyers belts to be cleaned, 
cooked, frozen to a frosty tempera- 
ture of -20 F, glazed, packed and 
stored in the holding freezer in less 
than one hour. 

Thomas says he chose cryogenic 
freezing to ensure a consistent supply 
of top quality frozen crab. He 

supplies his frozen crab clusters to a 
restaurant chain that sells the frozen 
crustaceans year-round to throngs of 
hungry customers. 

When it comes to freezing blue 
crabs and crab meat, Thomas says 
cryogenic freezing does the best job 

Inside the freezer, 
frozen fish and shellfish 
can come up against 
another problem: 

freezer burn 
or dehydration. 
Processors commonly 
prevent this problem 
by water glazing or 
using a moisture-barrier 
film or vacuum pouch. 

of retaining a freshlike texture, 
moisture and good flavor. The 
process is more expensive than 
other freezing methods, but the 
crab's irregular shape and the texture 
of its meat make cryogenics a better, 
more quality-conscious freezing 

In fact, the crab meat is in such 
good shape that Green has been 
working with Thomas to see if the 
meat from previously frozen crabs 
can be picked and packed for the 
crab meat market. In a project funded 
by the National Coastal Resources 
Research and Development Institute, 
Green has been evaluating the 
quality, yields and safety of cryo- 
genically frozen meat. 

Thomas says cryogenic freezing 
isn't for every seafood product. 
Some products freeze just as well 
using the less expensive mechanical 

But no matter what method you 
use, Thomas says to ensure a good 
quality frozen product, freezing 
should be the goal of the processor 
from the beginning. 

"Freezing shouldn't be used as a 
backup plan for seafood that can't be 
distributed fresh because of seasonal 

1 8 MARCH! APRIL 1993 

gluts and price drops," Thomas says. 
"Processors who freeze as an 
afterthought don't offer the same 
quality advantages as processors who 
are set up to freeze. 

"Some products are not frozen 
with the consumer in mind," he says. 
"They are frozen in bulk, not IQF. 
Quality does suffer, and that's how 
consumers get a bad taste for frozen 
seafood. It's not flavorful, or it's 
rancid. Until the industry consis- 
tently produces a good quality 
product with the consumer in mind 
from the beginning, consumers are 
going to have reservations. " 

Companies whose reputations 
and sales depend on the quality of 
their frozen seafood choose good fish 
and shellfish to freeze and freeze it 
the best way 
possible, Thomas 

whose reputations 
and sales depend on 
the quality of their 

frozen seafood 

choose good fish 

and shellfish to freeze 

and freeze it 

the best way possible. 


To help 
companies like 
Thomas' to 
improve even 
more, Lanier is 
testing some new 
freezing technol- 
ogy. Recently in 
a New Zealand 
Lanier learned 
that minced fish 
injected with 
certain sugars or 
starches fared 
better in the 

The sugars 
and starches 
protect the 
proteins in the 
fish during 
freezing and 
yield the kind of 
quality product 
researchers see 
only when fish is 
stored at tem- 



Effects of Holding Temperature on Fish Core Temperatures 
During Defrost Cycle in Mechanical Holding Freezers 

• Sample 1 
■ Sample 2 
▲ Air Temp. 


— i 



75 150 225 300 375 450 525 600 675 750 825 

This chart illustrates the effects of fluctuating temperatures during the defrost cycle in 
mechanical refrigeration systems. The core temperatures of frozen fish follow the rise 
and fall of holding temperatures in the freezer. The fluctuation is detrimental to the long- 
term storage of the seafood because ice crystals will slowly grow in the fish. To remedy 
the problem, hold the frozen fish at lower temperatures, -20 F to -30 F if possible, to 
compensate for the defrost cycle. 

peratures of -50 F, a setting too 
costly for most processors to use. 

Lanier is eager to experiment 
more with the sugars and starches in 
his NCSU laboratory. He would 
like to develop an injection system 
that would allow the infusion of the 
starches or sugars into fillets, the 
product form used most often by the 
processing industry. 

Lanier would like to help 
processors produce better quality 
frozen seafood so these products 
would be more readily accepted by 
the public. 

"The ideal way to sell seafood 
would be to freeze it and sell it 
frozen to consumers," Lanier says. 
And Thomas thinks that with more 
consumer education and the right 
could be sold 
on frozen fish. 

"If a 
would develop 
a frozen line of 
products that 
directions on 
how to thaw 
the product, 
when to use it 
and how to use 
it, then con- 
sumers could 
consistently get 
better quality 
seafood year- 
Thomas says. 
"The only 
seafood that 
would be better 
would be that 
dockside." □ 








~y o u n g mariners 

Fish Prints — Art in the Ocean 

Boost your child's art confidence 
by making fish prints. 

It's easy. It's fun. It's educational. 
And all you need are a few supplies. 

You simply coat an object, in this 
case a fish, with a light coat of ink. 
Then you press a 
clean piece of 
paper against it. An 
impression of the 
fish, often a very 
beautiful one, is left 
on the paper when 
it is lifted. 

The art of fish 
printing has its 
roots in Japan, 
where sport- 
fishermen began 
using the practice 
more than a 
century ago as 
proof of the size of their catch. 
Gyotaku, from the Japanese words 
gyo, or fish, plus taku, for rubbing, is 
the traditional term used for this form 
of nature printing. 

But today children of all ages can 
use the art form to learn more about 
fish and their environment, says 
Lundie Spence, Sea Grant's marine 
education specialist. 

Spence says she has made fish 
prints with children as young as 4 
years old. For them, making fish prints 
is an enjoyable craft. 

For older children and adults, 
producing fish prints "changes from a 
craft to an art in which skill is needed 
to record each scale and nuance of the 
fish," Spence says. 

And no matter what the age, fish 
printing can be a learning experience. 

"Kids can actually observe 
differences in fish more closely," 
Spence says. "Often children think a 
fish is a fish. But by making fish 

prints, they learn that the flounder has 
two eyes on the same side of the head, 
the black sea bass has long fins, the 
shad has large scales and the pompano 
has only a few scales." 

By determining the differences 

among fish, the youngsters can start to 
see how fish live in and adapt to their 
habitat, Spence says. 

"For instance, by looking at the 
shape of the fish's body and fms, 
children can determine which species 
are fast swimmers and which are not," 
Spence says. 

But don't think for a moment that 
fish prints are just child's play. If 
made with skill and precision, fish 
prints can become an art form too. 

Materials: You need blank 
newsprint paper, water soluble 
printer's ink or tempera colors, old 
newspaper to cover desks, small jars to 
hold the ink or paint, large and small 
brushes, paper towels and a fresh or 
frozen whole fish that has not been 
gutted or scaled. 

Procedure: For printing, it's best 
to chose a flat fish such as a flounder, 
spot, pinfish or triggerfish. But any 
fish will do, fresh or frozen. Frozen 
fish do particularly well, Spence says, 

because the fish dehydrate in the 
freezer, causing the scales to pull away 
from the fish and become more 
prominent. The fish should be whole, 
neither gutted nor scaled. 

First, wash the fish with soap and 
water to remove 
body slime. Dry 
thoroughly with a 
paper towel. 

Lay the fish on an 
old newspaper and 
extend its fins. To 
extend the fins, you 
may need to prop 
them against a ball of 
clay and insert pins. 

Brush a thin coat 
of ink or paint on top 
of the fish, avoiding 
the eye if possible. 
To add flair and 
distinction to your fish print, use 
several different colors of ink. Tradi- 
tional gyotakus were made with just 
black ink, but different colors add 
more dimension to the print. 

Be careful not to apply too much 
ink or paint because the image will not 
be clear. It's better to have too little ink 
than too much, Spence says. 

If the paint smears onto the news- 
paper, slide a clean piece of paper 
under the fish before printing. 

Gently drop a sheet of blank 
newsprint over the fish. Press evenly 
and lightly over the entire body. Work 
quickly because otherwise the paper 
will absorb too much ink and the 
image will not be crisp. Peel off the 
paper without blurring the print. Add 
the eye dot later. 

You can freeze your fish for future 
prints, or if you use water soluble inks, 
you can clean and cook the fish. 
Happy fish printing. 

Kathy Hart 

20 MARCH/APRIL 1993 

r o m sound to sea 

Water, Water Everywhere 

What is the most distinguishing 
feature about our coastal environ- 

Water. The salty wet stuff is 
everywhere — in estuaries, creeks, 
river mouths, bays and, of course, the 

Because water is so seemingly 
abundant along our shorelines, we 
don't think much about it. But here 
are some startling facts about one of 
life's necessities. 

♦ If Earth were the size of an egg, 
the total volume of water would be 
the equivalent of one drop. Of this 
total, only about one-third of 1 
percent is actually available to 
humans as fresh water for drinking 
and irrigating (the water in lakes, 
rivers and the accessible water table 
below ground). 

♦ Earth's total volume of water, 
some 1.36 billion cubic kilometers, 
would cover the globe to a height of 
2.7 kilometers (1.6 miles) if spread 
evenly above its surface. But more 
than 97 percent is seawater, 2 percent 
is locked in ice caps and glaciers, and 
a large portion of the remaining 1 
percent lies too far underground to 

♦ More than three-quarters of the 
fresh water on the earth's surface is 
frozen in the Antarctic ice cap. 

♦ The hydrologic cycle, the 
circulation of water on and below the 
earth's surface and in the atmosphere, 
uses more energy in a day than 
humankind has generated throughout 

♦ At any one time, only about 
.005 percent of the total water supply 
is moving through the hydrologic 
cycle. A drop of water spends about 
nine days in the air as vapor; once it 
condenses and falls as precipitation, it 
may remain in a glacier for 40 years, 

in a lake for 100 years or in the 
ground for 200 to 10,000 years. A 
water molecule may float in the ocean 
for 40,000 years before being cycled, 
but eventually every drop of water on 
Earth is moved through the hydro- 
logic cycle. 

♦ Today, 26 countries, home to 
232 million people, are water-scarce. 
They have less than 723 gallons of 
water per person per day. U.S. 
residents use, directly and indirectly 
through the manufacture of products 
and growth of foods, 1 ,840 gallons per 
person per day. Many of these water- 
deficient countries have very high 
population growth rates. 

♦ Africa has the largest number of 
water-scarce countries — 1 1 in all by 
the end of this decade. By the year 
2000, the total number of Africans 
living in water-scarce countries will 
climb to 300 million, a third of the 
continent's projected population. 

♦ Almost every organism depends 
on water for more than 50 percent of 
its body weight. The average amount 
of water in the human body is 65 

♦ The average human has about 
50 quarts of water in his or her body. 
Most of this water is found between 
the cells, bathing and lubricating them. 
The wettest part of the body, blood, is 
83 percent water; the driest, tooth 
enamel, is 2 percent. 

♦ So vast is the world ocean that 
one of its regions, the Pacific Ocean, 
is 25 percent larger than all of the land 
surface of the world combined. 

♦ The Amazon, the largest river in 
the world, discharges 7.06 million 
cubic feet of water per second. Its 
volume nearly equals that of all the 
other largest rivers combined. 

♦ Russia's Lake Baikal is the 
oldest of all freshwater lakes (about 30 
million years), the deepest (5,712 feet) 
and the greatest in volume (812 billion 
cubic feet). It supports the highest 
proportion (60 percent) of species that 
occur nowhere else on Earth. 


Cousteau, Jacques- Yves. 1980. The 
Cousteau Almanac: An Inventory of 
Life on Our Water Planet. Garden 
City, NY: Doubleday & Company 

Hollender, Jeffrey. 1990. How to 
Make The World a Better Place: A 
Guide to Doing Good. New York: 
Quill William Morrow. 

Leopold, Luna B., Kenneth S. Davis 
and the editors of Life. 1966. Water. 
New York: Time Inc. 

Postel, Sandra. 1992. Last Oasis: 
Facing Water Scarcity. New York: 
W.W. Norton & Company. 


m a r i n e advice 

Sea Grant Agents are Talking TEDs 

About this time every year, 
commercial fishermen take to the 
docks to tune up their trawlers for the 
spring shrimp season. But this year, 
there's a stir in the air, and it's more 
than the prospect of steady work. 

Instead, it has to do with new turtle 
excluder device (TED) regulations 
passed by the National Marine Fisher- 
ies Service (NMFS) in December. 

For the first time ever in inside 
waters, many commercial watermen 
are required to place a TED in their 
shrimp nets to allow endangered 
turtles to escape. But like other 
complicated gear requirements that 
frequently befuddle commercial 
fishermen, the TED regulations are 
difficult to understand. 

And as a result, rumors and 
misinformation abound. 

Sea Grant marine agents Jim Bahen 
and Bob Hines are trying to clear the 
air and educate North Carolina's pro- 
fessional watermen to the new TED 

Working one-on-one and with 
groups, Bahen and Hines want to bring 
fishermen into compliance with the law 
to help them avoid citations and to 
quickly address NMFS' concerns about 
turtle casualties. Failure to comply is a 
violation of the federal Endangered 
Species Act. 

So far, most of the queries have 
come from the northwest region of the 
Pamlico Sound, but Bahen says he's 
fielded questions from points all along 
the coast and even out-of-state. 

"The questions will go through the 
season," he predicts. "There are so 
many people involved. There will be so 
many rumors going around." 

Many commercial watermen are 
still at a loss over how these new 
regulations affect them and what 
equipment they should fit into their 

nets, Bahen says. They want to know 
where to buy TEDs, how much they 
cost, whether they can build their own 
and whether they can modify them. 

And there's also the larger question 
of how this equipment will perform in 

Bob Hines 

North Carolina's inner waters, which 
are shallower than offshore waters and 
contain more TED-clogging grasses. 

In a recent round of NMFS work- 
shops, North Carolina shrimpers said 
they were concerned that TEDs haven't 
been tested in the Core and Pamlico 
sounds and that they would fail to work 
in these inside waters. 

"They're saying that normally, 
even without anything in their nets, 
they have problems with algae and 
grass," Bahen says. "Now the govern- 
ment is asking them to put something 
in their nets that fishermen say 
shouldn't be there, gets clogged and 

isn't going to work." 

And fishermen are frustrated, 
Hines says, because he can't say 
definitively which model of TED 
would work best in the Pamlico and 
Core sounds. They can choose among 
several models, but none have been 
tested there and singled out as most 

Fishermen are going to have to 
organize, test the TEDs themselves and 
document trouble with the equipment, 
if any, Hines says. Only then can they 
apply to NMFS for a reprieve from 
pulling TEDs in the area. Hines has 
volunteered to organize the effort for 
the watermen. 

"If there's going to be a catastro- 
phe, rather than everyone running 
around willy-nilly, they have to 
document the problem," says Hines. 

Only in the algae-laden waters near 
Sneads Ferry and designated Florida 
waters still strewn with hurricane 
debris has NMFS recently granted 
fishermen an exemption for TEDs. 
Otherwise, reprieves are rare. 

And any exemption granted for an 
area is subject to constant re-evalua- 
tion. Already, some fishermen have 
said it's not worth the trouble, Hines 
says. They'll target another catch. 
Others have said they'll switch to 
skimmer gear, which doesn't need a 
TED but is limited to shallow water. 

Fishermen who intend to stay with 
their gear can contact Bahen for guides 
describing who must use the hardware. 
Watermen who want to build their own 
TEDs can get guidance from publica- 
tion UNC-SG-BP-93-01, authored by 
Bahen. For more information, contact 
Bahen at 919/458-5498, or Hines at 
919/247-4007. To order the free 
publications, call Sea Grant at 919/ 

Jeannie Faris 

22 MARCH! APRIL 1993 

J~ i eld notes 

Soundside Sleuths 

Two Sea Grant scientists want 
your help tracking an elusive killer. 

Forget guns, flak vests and stake 
outs. All that's needed to stalk this 
killer is a clean glass or plastic 

JoAnn Burkholder 
and Ed Noga, two N.C. 
State University 
researchers, are 
tracking the new toxic 
dinoflagellate they 
discovered in 1991. 
This alga, named 
Pfiesteria piscimorte, 
attacks fish in coastal 

The microscopic 
dinoflagellate stalks 
fish, kills them, feeds 
on their decaying flesh 
and retreats to the 
bottom to await more 
victims. Burkholder 
and Noga believe the 
dinoflagellate is 
responsible for as many 
as 25 percent of the fish kills in the 
Pamlico and Neuse rivers since 1986. 

But the research team wants to 
know more about this newly discov- 
ered killer — what triggers its toxic 
activity, how long does it remain 
toxic, how does it "attack" fish and 
shellfish, and when does it return to 
its dormant state? 

To find answers, the team needs 
to find fish kills. And that's where 
you can help. 

If you spot a fish kill, call 
Burkholder or Noga at one of three 
NCSU telephone numbers: 919/515- 
2726, 919/515-3421 or 919/829- 
4236. If neither researcher is in the 
office, please leave a message on the 
answering machine with details about 
where the fish kill is located, what 

day and time it is, who you are and 
where you can be reached. 

If you would like to provide more 
help, take a water sample from the 
vicinity of the fish kill. Use a clean, 
well-rinsed plastic or glass container. 

Sieve Murray 

Lower the container an arm's length 
below the water's surface in an area 
where the most fish are still dying. If 
the fish are already dead, then sample 
where there are high numbers of 
dead fish drifting toward shore. 

After the sample is collected, 
keep the container in the shade or at 
room temperature. 

If you're frequently on the water 
in areas where fish kills are likely to 
occur, then you may want to contact 
Burkholder or Noga for sampling 
supplies. They are willing to provide 
a preservative — an acidic Lugol 
solution — for collecting samples. 

To collect these samples, volun- 
teers follow the same procedure as 
above. But after the sample is 
collected, they add drops of Lugol 

solution until the sample turns 
golden orange. 

Besides taking samples, Burk- 
holder and Noga also want volun- 
teers to be good detectives and to use 
their powers of observation. 

Volunteers should take 
special note of the kill 
"scene." They should 
observe whether the water 
is discolored, whether fish 
are exhibiting erratic 
behavior or whether they 
are dying quickly. Good 
detectives should also write 
down the date, time, 
location, type of fish 
affected, whether birds are 
eating the dead or dying 
fish and other details that 
seem unusual or of interest. 

Once volunteer detect- 
ives collect their evidence 
(samples) and jot down the 
details of the scene, then 
the information needs to be 
sent immediately to 
Burkholder and Noga for analysis. 

The samples and information 
can be sent via state courier mail 
(# 536121) from a state or county 
office in your area. Or you can 
contact Noga and Burkholder to 
make arrangements for delivery 
and reimbursement. 

The scientists will be able to 
confirm the presence of Pfiesteria 
piscimorte within one day after 
receiving water samples. However, 
it takes several weeks for the 
researchers to determine toxic 

By becoming research detectives 
for this Sea Grant duo, you can help 
in the quest to find ways to control 
these killer algae. 

Kathy Hart 


Coastal commentary 

Is North Carolina Ready for Ocean Outfalls? 

The beauty of North Carolina's 
coastline has won it admirers from 
near and far. The permanent popula- 
tion of the 20 coastal counties grew 
by 19 percent in the 1980s, and the 
burgeoning tourism industry has kept 

But the price of this growth and 
popularity has not been cheap. People 
generate wastewater, and many of the 
coastal disposal methods are reaching 
their limits. Planners are looking for 
new wastewater disposal options. 

One possibility, an ocean outfall, 
would collect waste from a large 
region, treat it and dispose of it 
offshore. This disposal method is 
already in place in many U.S. coastal 
regions, including Virginia Beach. 

But proximity alone won't assure 
that a North Carolina proposal would 
get the same degree of support as 
Virginia's ocean outfall. 

The Tar Heel coastline is among 
the best known and least developed in 
the eastern United States. Largely on 
the strength of the prominent Outer 
Banks, our relatively undisturbed 
beaches have been ranked among the 
best in the nation by Stephen 
Leafherman. a noted coastal re- 
searcher at the University of Mary- 

Virginia Beach, on the other 
hand, has been developed for more 
than two generations as part of the 
Hampton Roads metropolitan area, 
which also includes the densely 
populated cities of Norfolk and 

Its development is driven by 
tourism and growth of several naval 
bases in Hampton Roads. Conse- 
quently, a large portion of the popula- 
tion is not native to the area and 
knows little about its heritage. These 
people would not recall the maritime 

forest, grassy dunes and untainted 
sounds and marshes. To them, 
Virginia Beach has always been a 
vista of high-rise motels, fast-food 
stores, boulevards, neon signs and 
gas stations. 

So public resistance was not 
strong enough to stop an ocean 
outfall when it was proposed there in 
1974. By 1983, the system was 
operational and today discharges 28 
million gallons of wastewater daily. 

North Carolina's coastal 
changes, on the other hand, are less 
extensive and more recent. Residents 
are aware of their coastal heritage and 
the changes wrought by develop- 
ment. They remember the natural 
areas destroyed, and they treasure 
those that remain. Generations have 
hunted duck, fished or crabbed in the 
marshes and sounds and walked for 
miles on the beaches without a single 
high-rise blocking the afternoon sun. 

This strong link to their past 
could be an obstacle to building an 
ocean outfall in North Carolina. 
Many new residents also advocate 
protecting the coastal environments 
that drew them to the area in the first 
place. Waste disposal is a consider- 
able constraint on development for 
most of coastal North Carolina. Some 
fear an ocean outfall would remove 
that constraint and accelerate change. 

In the short-term, the water 
quality of our inland waters may 
benefit by the removal of treatment 
plant and septic tank wastewater 
discharges. But in the long run, the 
water quality impacts caused by 
increased development as a result of 
an ocean outfall may be more severe. 

Public attitude, however, is only 
one of a number of potential obsta- 
cles to building an ocean outfall in 
North Carolina. Another may be 

geography of the area. 

Our tripartite coast is separated 
by the east- and west-oriented 
Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. It is 
estimated that discharge of at least 35 
to 40 million gallons of treated 
wastewater per day is necessary to 
economically justify construction of 
an ocean outfall. At current coastal 
population densities, this would 
require sewage collection from a 
minimum of two counties, and in 
most locations more. 

But the lateral separation of 
North Carolina's tripartite coast 
would limit the construction of 
northbound and southbound collec- 
tion pipes. It would not be feasible to 
cross the Albemarle or Pamlico 
sounds with pipes. Therefore, to 
collect an adequate volume of 
wastewater, the network would have 
to extend far inland. This would raise 
the cost for pipe, which typically 
accounts for 60 to 80 percent of the 
total expense of providing public 
sewer service. 

Historically, ocean outfalls have 
met with varying degrees of success, 
depending on their locations and 
local oceanographic conditions. 
Variables such as longshore drift, 
upwellings, downwellings, the Gulf 
Stream and currents in the nearshore 
ocean would have a bearing on the 
success of an outfall. 

An effective waste disposal 
policy in coastal North Carolina 
should take into account all of these 
considerations — oceanography, 
geography and heritage. The first 
opportunity will be at an ocean 
outfall conference at the Atlantic 
Beach Sheraton April 19-20. For 
information, call 919/638-3185. 

Barbara Doll, Sea Grant Coastal 
Water Quality Specialist 

24 MARCH/APRIL 1993 

& f t deck 


Bayou Technology 

Before controversy about bycatch 
of the shrimp fishery reached a rolling 
boil, two North Carolina fishermen 
took a cue from Louisiana watermen 
and a funny-looking shrimp trawler 
skimming the bayous. It seems their 
Cajun cousins had taken a fancy to the 
''skimmer" trawl, a cross between a 
butterfly net and a Vietnamese 
"chopstick" rig. 

The otter, the traditional choice of 
North Carolina shrimpers, caught 
bunches of shrimp. But it also caught 
sea turtles and other non-targeted 
finfish and shellfish species known as 
bycatch. Burdened with requirements 
such as turtle excluder devices (TEDs) 
— and anticipating measures to 
further reduce finfish and shellfish 
bycatch — the two fishermen won- 
dered whether the skimmer might be 
an alternative in estuarine waters. 
Since each net lies alongside the boat, 
and the tailbag can be conveniently 
retrieved with a pickup line while the 
net fishes, it appeared easy to dump 
and required no loss of fishing time. 
The fishermen reasoned that shrimpers 
would be willing to dump the catch 
about every 30 minutes; any turtle 
caught in the net should survive such a 
brief tow, eliminating need for a TED. 
Second, they believed that finfish 
bycatch would be less with skimmers 
since the effective spread of the gear 
over the bottom is less. 

The fishermen, Clinton Willis and 
Craig Schreck, couldn't have been 
more right. Four years later, they have 
the data to prove it — thanks to the 
cooperative efforts of fishermen, 
netmakers, Sea Grant agents and 
supporters in Louisiana and North 
Carolina and to funding from the 
National Marine Fisheries Service and 
the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries 
Development Foundation. Not only 

did the skimmer reduce bycatch, it 
blew the otter out of the water in 
amount of white shrimp caught in 
shallow estuarine waters. With future 
improvements and modifications, the 
skimmer promises to hold its own 
against the otter trawl in pink and 
brown shrimp catches. 

The effort to transfer Bayou 
technology to North Carolina's inshore 
waters is outlined in a brand-new, fully 
illustrated publication, The Skimmer 
Trawl in North Carolina Estuaries. 
This 24-page manual compares the 
skimmer and otter in regard to both 
shrimp catch and bycatch, based on 
tests in North Carolina during the 
summer of 1991; details how to build 
and fish the skimmer trawl; outlines 
the advantages and disadvantages of 
both gear (cost, fuel efficiency, shrimp 
and bycatch mortality, haul-back, cull 
time, etc.) and provides a brief history 
of the bycatch controversy. The 
booklet includes detailed construction 
diagrams, photographs and tables. 

For a copy, send $2.50 to Sea 
Grant, Box 8605, NCSU, Raleigh, 
NC 27695. Ask for publication 
number UNC-SG-93-01. Please make 
check or money order payable to UNC 
Sea Grant. 

What is Sea Grant? 

Has the name Sea Grant left you 
wondering what this program is and 
what it does? Well wonder no more. 
Sea Grant has a new brochure de- 
signed to explain this unique university 
program and its mission. 

Sea Grant is dedicated to bringing 
the best in research, education and 
advice to coastal North Carolina. We 
conduct relevant research, explore 
innovative ideas and give sound 

To learn more about what Sea 
Grant means to coastal North Carolina, 
send for our new brochure. It's free for 

the asking. Or stop by the Sea Grant 
office closest to you. 

Big Sweep Needs You 

The N.C. Big Sweep, the nation's 
largest statewide waterway litter 
cleanup, needs volunteer help to 
answer phones and stuff envelopes 
during the busy summer months prior 
to the cleanup. 

Susan Bartholomew, the Big 
Sweep executive director, is looking 
for volunteers, adults or teenagers, 
from the Wake County area to help in 
the Big Sweep office, located in the 
Wake County office building in 
downtown Raleigh. 

In particular, Bartholomew is 
seeking volunteers to answer the Big 
Sweep hotline and direct potential 
participants to cleanup sites throughout 
the state. She also needs help packag- 
ing supplies for county coordinators 
and T-shirts for participants. 

"It would be an ideal summer 
activity for high school students who 
want to show potential college recruit- 
ers or employers that they are involved 
in the community," Bartholomew says. 

To volunteer, call Bartholomew at 

Introduce Us to Your 

Tell your friends about Coastwatch 
by allowing us to send them a free 
copy for their perusal. Just send us the 
name and complete address of a friend 
whom you think would be interested in 
our magazine. Then we'll send him or 
her a free copy with no strings at- 
tached. If the person is interested, he or 
she can send back an enclosed sub- 
scription card along with a check. If 
not, we won't bother your friend again. 

To take advantage of this offer, 
write Coastwatch Sample Copy, UNC 
Sea Grant, Box 8605, NCSU, Raleigh, 
NC 27695. 


UNC Sea Grant May/June 1993 $2.50 



Hatching Hybrid Bass 

Feral Felines 

c oastwatch 

Coastwatch Staff: 

Kathy Hart, Managing Editor 

Jeannie Faris and Carla B. Burgess, 

Staff Writers and Editors 
L. Noble, Designer 
Debra Lynch, Circulation Manager 

The University of North Carolina Sea 
Grant College Program is a federal/state 
program that promotes the wise use of 
our coastal and marine resources 
through research, extension and educa- 
tion. It joined the National Sea Grant 
College Network in 1970 as an institu- 
tional program. Six years later, it was 
designated a Sea Grant College. Today, 
UNC Sea Grant supports several 
research projects, a 12-member exten- 
sion program and three communicators. 
B.J. Copeland is director. The program 
is funded by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce's National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration and the 
state through the University of North 

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Front cover photo of Cape Lookout 
Lighthouse by Scott D. Taylor. 

Inside front cover photo of Hatter as 
Lighthouse by Scott D. Taylor. 

Printed on recycled paper 
by Highland Press Inc. in 
Fayetteville, N.C. *\ 

r o m 

t h 


Dear Readers, 

This month, free-lance writer Sarah Friday Peters 
lights up the pages of Coastwatch with a story about the 
North Carolina lighthouses. Peters relates the history of 
these glowing navigational guides, which now beckon 
thousands of coastal tourists. 

Free-lance writer Alison Davis gives a synopsis of the 
coastal issues facing the newly elected and appointed 
officials of our federal and state governments. From 
wetlands to the proposed Oregon Inlet jetties, Davis 
explains which coastal issues are sure to inspire debate. 

I introduce you to two Sea Grant researchers, a 
scientific odd couple of sorts, who are unlocking the 
secrets of striped bass reproductive physiology. Under- 
standing striper biology is important to the hybrid bass 
aquaculture industry, which is dependent on the striper for 
parental stock. 

In t h i 

Lundie Spence, Sea Grant's marine education 
specialist, provides "boring" details about shipworms and 
gribbles, those marine mollusks that eat away at the hulls 
of wooden boats. 

And don't forget to read "From Sound to Sea" and 
"Marine Advice." The first is a thought-provoking article 
on the feral cats of the Outer Banks, and the latter will 
update you on the new laws affecting marinas and the 
boaters who use them. 

Thanks to all of you who responded to our survey. I 
was very pleased with the large number of surveys 
returned and all of the wonderful suggestions. In the next 
issue of Coastwatch, I will tell you what readers told us 
about the magazine. 

Until next issue, CLEARINGHOUSE 
Kathy Hart 

8 1993 

s issue 

Page 2 

Tar Heel Beacons Light the Way. . . 2 

Locating the Lighthouses ... 8 

A Storm of Controversy Over the Hatteras Light ... 9 

New Federal and State Administrations 
Dance Around Coastal Issues ... 10 

Scientists Boost Hybrid Industry 
With New Discoveries ... 14 

Shipworms and Gribbles: 
The Wooden Boat Eaters ... 17 



Page 20 
Marina Laws 

Marine Advice 
New Laws Making Waves With Marinas 

From Sound to Sea 
Outer Banks Wild Cats ... 21 

The Aft Deck ... 23 

Back Talk . . . 25 


Page 17 
& Gribbles 


1 MAY I JUNE 1993 

By Sarah Friday Peters 

It's almost midnight. Your plane 
from New York is ready to land in 
Raleigh, and the pilot's voice comes on 
the intercom. 

"I'm sorry to report that the airport 
tower and lights are out," he says. 
"Please remain calm while I try to land 
in the dark." 


Any second now the plane, its 
cargo and you might smack the runway 
like a hundred tons of brick! 

Now you know how navigators felt 
before lighthouses guarded North 
Carolina's coast. 

Early mariners sailed along the Tar 
Heel barrier islands like seamen in 
blindfolds, dodging unmarked capes, 
currents and shoals. Except for occa- 
sional fires set on high dunes or in 
crude towers, no markers signaled the 
hazards along the Carolina shores. 

But the shifting sands and the lack 
of markers didn't stop mariners from 
skimming the state's coastline. 

Many who passed were north- 
bound on an offshore highway of 
current that today we call the Gulf 
Stream. Spanish explorers carried home 
Caribbean treasures on its path. Sir 
Walter Raleigh once considered it a 
shortcut to China. And later Colonial 
ships carrying coffee from South 
America and molasses from the West 
Indies rode the current northward. 

At Hatteras, the warm waters of 
the Gulf Stream collided with the cold, 
southbound Labrador Current, creating 
constant turbulence and shifting 
underwater sandbars such as Diamond 
Shoals. Winds, too, pushed ships north 
of the cape, stalling them for days. 

Even the light of day didn't keep 
ship captains from running aground on 
shallow shoals, where they were at the 
mercy of the ocean's pounding waves. 
And night was even more perilous; the 
only warning of impending danger was 
the crashing breakers. 

Shifting sands, fickle winds and 

battling currents took their toll on 
vessels such as the Tiger, the Tyrrel 
and Betsy. More than 2,300 vessels met 
their demise, earning North Carolina 
maritime distinction as the "graveyard 
of the Atlantic." 

Inshore hazards posed problems 


Without stable landmarks, mari- 
ners rarely knew where to enter Cape 
Lookout, Cape Fear, Beaufort Inlet and 
other harbors. Shallow inlets and inland 


shoals such as Royal Shoals at the 
Pamlico River created other road- 
blocks to coastal trade. 

"Commerce was frustrated and 
adversely affected by the treacherous- 
ness of the inlets," says David Stick, 
an author and chronicler of Outer 
Banks history. "We had no major 
ports. That was our trouble. The only 
reliable port of entry was Cape Fear, 
and even that had its problems with 
Frying Pan Shoals." 

But colonists needed to trade. The 
livelihood of a growing province 
depended on its commerce. 

Roanoke Inlet near Roanoke Island 
and Currituck Inlet at the Virginia 
boundary marked early entrances into 
the Carolina colony. But by the 1700s, 
Ocracoke and the Cape Fear River had 
become the largest ports. 

As early as 1730, the colony's river 
and port pilots asked for buoys and 
beacons at Ocracoke Inlet to aid 
navigation. But the British weren't 
interested in safeguarding Colonial 
shores, despite the heavy exchange of 
goods between the mother country and 

After the Revolutionary War, few 
goods came and went from England. 
But trade between the new state ports 

"It wasn't lucrative or easy to trade 
with North Carolina," says Connie 
Mason, a historian at the N.C. Maritime 
Museum. "Because of that, North 
Carolina was economically on the 

The South had only a few impor- 
tant ports of call, Charleston and 
Savannah being the largest. Clearly, the 
North was the center of commerce for 
the young nation, and consequently, the 
country's first lighthouses were placed 
at Boston; Nantucket, Mass.; Sandy 
Hook, N.J.; Plymouth, Mass.; and five 
other points north. 

The lighthouses were built and 
maintained primarily by the cities' 
merchants and shippers. But the South 
was dominated by farmers who saw 
little need for lighthouses and beacons. 

All that changed by 1784. 

North Carolina made attempts to 
erect lighthouses at Ocracoke and the 
Cape Fear River. The state proposed 
that the first lighthouse be built on the 
southeast side of the mouth of the Cape 
Fear River at Bald Head Island. 

Benjamin Smith donated 10 acres 
of his island to the state, and a tax on 



Scolt D Taylor 

Bodie Island Lighthouse 

vessels entering the Cape Fear River 
helped pay for the project. Construc- 
tion began in 1789. That same year, 
the legislature proposed a second 
light at Ocracoke to foster foreign 

But the newly formed federal 
government saw trade as a national 
priority, and on Aug. 7, 1789, 
Congress passed its ninth act, one for 
the authorization and support of 
lighthouses, beacons, buoys and 
public piers. A new Lighthouse 
Service would locate, oversee — and 
most importantly — pay for new 
lighthouses and finish those already 
under construction. 

In North Carolina, that meant 
completion of the Cape Fear Light. 

Construction proceeded slowly, 
but by 1795 a tall, brick tower with an 
iron lantern and Boston glass burned 
brightly over the lower Cape Fear. 

Congress next moved the site of 
the state's second lighthouse from 
Ocracoke to a nearby barren island 
made of oyster shells. The Shell 
Castle Island beacon was lit about 

Scolt D. Taylor 

Currituck Lighthouse 

As America flourished, trade, 
travel and the safety of both became 
increasingly important to growth of 
the new nation. The Lighthouse 

Scolt D. Taylor 

Ocracoke Lighth 

Service finally saw the need to build 
beacons where navigational hazards, 
not just commerce, demanded them. 

Since before the mid- 1700s, 
pilots sailing the East Coast begged 
for aids to help them navigate by 
North Carolina's shores, especially 
Cape Hatteras. Shipwrecks off the 
Outer Banks, like the Tyrrel, told the 
story too well. 

On June 28, 1759, the New York 
brig set sail for Antigua. Fifteen 
crewmen and a cabin boy steered the 
boat south until angry squalls three 
days later tossed the Tyrrel upside 

With only one biscuit, a few oars 
and the rudder, the crew boarded a 
19-foot lifeboat. By nightfall they 
drifted — lost — off North Carolina's 
coast. Twenty-three days later, a 
passing ship found the boat off 
Marblehead, Mass. Only Thomas 
Purnell, the brig's first mate, sur- 

A towering light at Cape Hatteras 
could have changed the Tyrrel' s fate. 
The crew drifted so close to shore the 
first night that a beacon could have 



4 MAY/JUNE 1993 

Scon D. Taylor 

Cape Lookout Lighthouse 

guided them safely in. Instead, they 
headed out to sea. 

Alexander Hamilton, too, felt the 
power of Hatteras' angry fists when 
at age 17, the passenger ship he 
sailed on caught fire and lost control 
on the dangerous shoals. Hamilton 
never forgot his trip on the Thunder- 
bolt. As a high-ranking member of 
George Washington's cabinet, he 
helped form the Lighthouse Service 
in 1789 and initiate construction of 
the first Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. 

The original lighthouse, com- 
pleted in 1 802, was an octagonal 
tower 90 feet tall made of sandstone. 
The lighthouse keeper, one of the 
faithful men who maintained the 
beacons, kept nine 200-gallon 
cisterns full of whale oil to fuel the 
Hatteras Light. 

With their beams, lighthouses 
guarded two capes, Cape Fear and 
Cape Hatteras, as well as ports at the 
Cape Fear River and Ocracoke. But 
Cape Lookout and Beaufort re- 
mained dark. 

Early maps listed Cape Lookout 
as "Promontorium tremendum," 

Scott D. Taylor 

Bald Head Lighthouse 

which sailors translated later as 
"horrible headland." Shoals 10 miles 
offshore fueled the fear. But mariners 
came to know the quiet harbor behind 



Department of Conservation & Development 

Oak Island Lighthouse 

the point as a refuge from storms and 
a rendezvous site for pirates, Spanish 
privateers and British warships. 

By 1812, a 96-foot lighthouse 
rose above the southern harbor. 

The Lighthouse Service had 
hardly finished the Cape Lookout 
Lighthouse when it began to receive 
complaints about the lights at Bald 
Head and Shell Castle Island. Lt. 
David D. Porter went as far as to say: 
"The lights on Hatteras, Lookout and 
Cape Florida, if not improved, had 
better be dispensed with as the 
navigator is apt to run ashore looking 
for them," recounts Francis Holland in 
America's Lighthouses. 

The trouble came with shifting 
inlets and inadequate lamps that 
couldn't be kept burning. 

In 1818, Congress appropriated 
money to replace the deteriorated 
Cape Fear Light with a 1 10-foot 
lighthouse on Bald Head. "Old 
Baldy," as it came to be called, shone 
its beacon past Bald Head and Frying 
Pan Shoals most years until 1958. 
Today, it's the oldest standing 
lighthouse in the state. Continued 


Photographer captures an aerial view Oj 

By 1820, the Shell Castle Light 
needed replacing, too, as it stood a mile 
away from the channel it was supposed 
to mark. By 1822, a new, more 
effective lighthouse guarded Ocracoke 
Inlet. The conical, whitewashed tower 
stood 75 feet above the island. One 
hundred seventy years later, the 
Ocracoke Light is the oldest operating 
lighthouse in the state. 

A hurricane ripped open a new 
inlet in North Carolina in 1846. Two 
years later, the first of three Bodie 
Island lights was built south of Oregon 
Inlet. The 56-foot marker filled a dark 
gap between Cape Hatteras and Cape 

he Cape Lookout. 

Henry on the Chesapeake and enabled 
mariners traveling south to round Cape 
Hatteras without hitting the northward- 
flowing Gulf Stream. 

Like many of the old lights, the 
federal Lighthouse Service was 
deemed ineffective in 1851 and 
replaced by a Lighthouse Board. The 
change brought quick advancements in 
the quality of the country's lights. By 
1856, modem Fresnel lenses topped 
330 of the nation's 331 lighthouses. 
Wick lamps replaced whale oil. And 
lighthouse construction and reconstruc- 
tion boomed. 

In 1854, the Cape Hatteras 

Lighthouse was raised to 150 feet to 
boost its beam seaward. And two new 
lighthouses went up at Cape Lookout 
and Bodie Island in 1859. 

"People in North Carolina had 
more power in Congress then," says 
Richard Bauman, former chief of the 
U.S. Office of Navigation, which 
oversees federal lighthouses. In the 
1840s and 1850s, "North Carolina 
made out like a bandit. Then the Civil 
War came and they ruined everything 
they had worked for." 

Yankee troops set fire to a small 
light at Pamlico Point Shoals in an 
attempt to destroy it, but the Confeder- 

6 MAY/ JUNE 1993 

ates arrived in time to put out the fire. 
Usually the opposite happened. 

North Carolina rebel troops blew 
up the new Bodie Island Light in 
1861 so Union troops wouldn't claim 
it. Confederates also damaged the 
beacons at Cape Lookout and Bald 
Head and removed the lenses at Cape 
Hatteras and Ocracoke so Union 
soldiers couldn't find their way to 

After the war, North Carolina and 
the South faced immense hurdles. The 
lighthouses, dark since 1861, 
crumbled in disrepair, leaving the 
coast's warning system like a light 
fixture without a bulb. 

Recognizing the need, the federal 
government funneled money first to 
the lighthouses on the Outer Banks. 
Construction and keeper jobs opened, 
and local merchants secured contracts 
for fuel and supplies. Weather 
stations, lifesaving stations and post 
offices followed, putting the Banks 
back on its feet. 

But what Cape Hatteras really 
needed was a new light. The Light- 
house Board proposed to build "the 
most imposing and substantial brick 
lighthouse on this continent, if not the 
world." The light, 208 feet tall, would 
be a showpiece, the tallest lighthouse 
in the country. It would stand guard 
over the graveyard of the Atlantic and 
contribute to the commerce of the 
United States. 

Nearly 100 Outer Banks workers 
endured searing sun, mosquitoes, 
biting flies, fevers and long delays 
while constructing the new tower of 



granite, brick and iron. By 1 870, the 
new lighthouse beamed. 

One of the first sites to support a 
separate lighthouse and lifesaving 
station in North Carolina was 
Currituck. In 1874, a 158-foot tower lit 
a dark spot in an 80-mile stretch 
between Cape Henry and Bodie Island. 
Its light, which could be seen for 19 
miles, often aided rescuers from the 
nearby Currituck Lifesaving Service 

To help mariners in their daytime 
visual identification, the Lighthouse 
Board devised a painting scheme for 
the barrier island towers in 1873. The 
diamonds, swirls, red brick and stripes 
we see today remain as the monuments' 

distinguishing marks. 

Rumors still fly that the painters 
became confused and painted the wrong 
patterns on the Cape Lookout and Cape 
Hatteras lighthouses. People errone- 
ously surmised that Cape Lookout's 
diamond pattern should have been 
painted on the Cape Hatteras structure 
because of its proximity to Diamond 
Shoals. But the lighthouses were 
painted as they were meant to be: 
diamonds on Cape Lookout and swirls 
on Cape Hatteras. 

It is believed to be true, however, 
that the small whaling town near the 
Lookout Lighthouse called Diamond 
City got its name in 1885 from its 
nearby guardian. Bankers, tired of 
taking beating after beating from 
coastal storms, deserted the town after 
the turn of the century. 

With kerosene, then electricity in 
the early 1890s, the number of light- 
house keepers dwindled. Advanced 
technology and more powerful ships 
reduced the urgent need for lighthouses. 
In 1958, North Carolina built its last 
lighthouse to overlook the Cape Fear at 
Oak Island. 

Three of the state's seven light- 
houses still flash their beams at Oak 
Island, Ocracoke and Hatteras. Charter 
boat captains and fishermen trawling 
inland waters chart their courses by 
them. Tourists soak in their beauty. And 
Bankers write poems and sing songs to 
capture their awe. 

"This lighthouse means a lot to the 
local people here," Mason says of the 
Cape Lookout Lighthouse. "It's still a 
marker. It still means home." □ 

Lighthouse Recollections 

Rany Jennette remembers climbing 
all 268 steps to the top of the Hatteras 
Light with his father, Unaka, the last 
lighthouse keeper to work there. 

"I guess I probably have more 
memories of it than anyone," says 
Jennette, now a ranger at the Cape 

Hatteras National Seashore. 

"Going to the top at night was 
the most special treat of all, "he once 
wrote. "It's hard to describe the 
feeling or the beauty of all those 
prisms casting diamonds of multicol- 
ored light to dance on the deck 

The keeper's job was a busy one. 
He had to haul fuel to the lantern daily 
and keep lenses clean and light 
calibrations correct. The keeper 
stocked food and supplies. And he kept 
a constant watch for stranded vessels 
and shipwrecks off the coast. 



The Cape Lookout Lighthouse 


The Currituck Light, off N.C. 12 
near Corolla, is open Easter weekend 
through Thanksgiving. Fee: $3. 
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except 
Sunday. For more information: 919/ 


The Bodie Island Light, off N.C. 12 
near Nags Head, is closed to visitors, 
yet still operates its light. Free. A 
visitors' center on the site is open five 
days a week. Volunteers are available 
to give talks on the tower. For more 
information: 919/473-2111. 


The nation's tallest lighthouse, off 
N.C. 12 near Buxton, opens its doors 
Memorial Day for the first time since 
1984. Visitors can take free guided 
tours. Call for hours. A museum and 
visitors' center nearby is free and 
open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
Memorial Day through Labor Day. 
Interpretive talks are also available. 

Scott D. Taylor 

For more information, call the Cape 
Hatteras National Seashore at 919/ 
473-21 1 1 or the visitors' center at 


The state's oldest operating light is 
closed. But the island visitors' center 
offers a walking tour brochure that 
includes the light's history. The 
center is open five days a week. Call 
for hours. Ocracoke is accessible by 
ferry. For information: 919/473-21 1 1. 


A ferry ride takes you to the Lookout 
Lighthouse, which is closed to the 
public. Three ferries run from 
Harkers Island and Davis. Prices are 
$12 for adults, and $5 to $6 for older 
children. Barrier Island Transporta- 
tion Co.: 919/728-3575 or toll-free in 
N.C. 800/423-8739. Sand Dollar 
Transportation: 919/728-3533. Alger 
Willis Fishing Camps: 919/729-2791. 
For more information on the light- 
house, call the Cape Lookout Na- 

tional Seashore from 8 a.m. to 4:30 
p.m. daily at 919/728-2250. 


Old Baldy can be reached by a ferry 
that leaves Southport on the hour daily 
from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., except at noon 
and 8 p.m. Ferry fee: $14 round-trip. 
Visitors can climb the light this sum- 
mer. A lunch and historic tour of Bald 
Head is available for $25 Tuesday 
through Saturday. Ferry leaves at 10 
a m. from Southport and returns about 
2 p.m. For more information: 800/234- 
1666. For lunch tour reservations: 919/ 


The state's newest lighthouse, located 
off N.C. 133 near Caswell Beach, is 
closed to the public. But free tours 
of the U.S. Coast Guard Station and 
pamphlets on the lighthouse are avail- 
able. Tours run on weekdays 5 p.m to 
7 p.m. and weekends noon to 5 p.m. 
For information: 919/278-1 144 or 919/ 
278-1133. m 

8 MAY I JUNE 1993 



The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse once 
fended away ships from the perilous 
crook in North Carolina's Outer Banks 
shoreline. Today, it's a beacon to 
visitors to discover our state's rich 
nautical history. 

But its place in history may change, 
literally. The surf has gradually taken 
its toll on the foothold of the 208-foot 
tower. Today, after 123 years of batter- 
ing by wind and waves, all that is left 
standing between the monument and the 
ocean is about 150 feet of sand and a 
buttress of sandbags. 

Sooner or later, Mother Nature or 
the National Park Service will claim the 
nation's tallest brick beacon from its 

The Park Service, which owns the 
lighthouse, has found itself in a storm of 
controversy that could match any Outer 
Banks northeaster in intensity. On one 
side, groups such as the Move the 
Lighthouse Committee argue for pulling 
it back 1,500 feet from the shoreline. 
Others, many native to Hatteras Island, 
want the Park Service to continue 
shoring up the coast and leave the 
lighthouse on its original site. 

"I don't think you'd find a native, 
by that people who live here and love 
the lighthouse, who wants to move it," 
says Carol Dillon, who owns nearby 
rental cottages. "There's no way to 
successfully move it. And they're only 
doing it to see if they can." 

The Park Service has forged a plan 
to move the lighthouse, but only when 

absolutely necessary. A relocation 
would keep the monument safe for 100 
years and re-establish it 1,500 feet from 
the surf, its original distance from the 
water before erosion claimed the beach. 

Mary Collier, management 
assistant for the Park Service, says 
Congress hasn't allotted the $8.7 
million needed to move the lighthouse. 
But the park is pursuing the funding 


request. In the meantime, it is protecting 
the monument with a 250-foot sandbag 
buffer, repairing the buffer as needed 
after storms and extending it. 

The Park Service has also asked the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to 
inspect the southernmost of three groins 
— walls built out from the shore to trap 
sand — in front of the lighthouse to 
gauge its stability and need for repairs. 
A fourth groin may be built to the south 
to help hold the beach in place. 

Once Congress grants the money 

for moving the lighthouse, no less than 
three years will be needed to plan and 
carry out the task, Collier says. 

This concerns proponents, who 
argue that delaying the move will risk 
the chance of a powerful storm sweep- 
ing the sand from under the foundation 
sooner than expected. And a stepped-up 
emergency move will be costly, says 
David Fischetti, president of Move the 
Lighthouse Committee. 

Heavy erosion on islands such as 
Hatteras is a natural occurrence, says 
Spencer Rogers, Sea Grant's coastal 
engineering specialist. Wave action at 
Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout and Cape 
Fear erodes the east-facing shore and 
deposits the sand on the south-facing 
shore. Historically, such sandy capes 
experience 15 feet of erosion per year, 
Rogers says. 

But erosion is not an immediate 
threat to North Carolina's other five 
coastal lighthouses. 

At Hatteras, Rogers says, the groin 
field is the only thing saving the 
lighthouse today and keeping it stable 
for the foreseeable future. And it's the 
only thing saving the oceanfront 
buildings in Buxton, he adds. 

A now-discarded alternative for 
saving the lighthouse was to build a 
seawall around its base. Eventually, the 
sand would have eroded around the 
revetment, possibly creating a small 
island, Collier says. That project would 
have cost $6.5 million. E 

Jeannie Faris 


New Federal and State Administrations 

By Alison Davis 

Speculation is rampant in North 
Carolina as a new president, a new 
governor, new government leaders 
and a new legislature dance around 
the issues of the day. 

For coastal North 
Carolina, the biggest 
dance may be the 
wetlands shuffle. The 
N.C. Division of 
Environmental Man- 
agement will classify all sUHH 
of the state's wetlands, 
and a rumble may ensue 
between state agencies 
about how wet a 
wetland is and how 
these valuable saturated 
soils should be man- 

Over at the Legisla- 
ture, lawmakers hope to 
waltz their way through 
several fisheries bills, 
while the N.C. Division 
of Coastal Management 
tries to rumba legisla- 
tors out of money for 
beach and coastal river 
access areas. 

And sides are once again being 
drawn for a cha-cha over the jetties 
at Oregon Inlet. State leaders and 
fishermen are lobbying the Clinton 
administration to get the jetties off 
the drawing board and into the 
water. Meanwhile, environmental- 
ists and geologists are lining up in 
opposition to what they believe 
could be a costly environmental 

But so far, neither the state's 
new administration nor the 1993 
General Assembly has made any 

sweeping proposals or pronounce- 
ments regarding coastal policy. 

That's not to say that changes 
haven't been made, however — or 
that some controversial coastal issues 
aren't in the offing. 

C.R. Edgerlon 



What is expected to be the 
hottest statewide environmental issue 
of 1993 will be of great importance 
to the North Carolina coast. 

As required by the U.S. Environ- 
mental Protection Agency, the N.C. 
Environmental Management Com- 
mission (EMC) will try this year to 
classify all of the state's wetlands — 
coastal and otherwise. 

The N.C. Division of Environ- 
mental Management has proposed 
putting every North Carolina wetland 
into one of four classes. All coastal 
wetlands would fall into the same 
class, described as "salt marsh," 

according to Environ- 
mental Management. 

The rules are not 
intended, Environmen- 
tal Management 
officials say, to set 
levels of development 
allowed in wetland 
areas. But like the 
EMC's watershed 
classifications did last 
year, the wetlands 
proposal is expected to 
set off a battle between 
developers and environ- 
mental groups. And it 
may lead to some 
disagreement among 
state agencies. 

Already, comments 
on Environmental 
Management's proposal 
show differences in 
agency approaches to 
wetlands protection. 
Environmental Management's 
proposal, as required by the EPA, 
protects only water quality. But 
wetlands perform other valuable 
functions, such as providing wildlife 
habitat — and should be protected for 
all those values, say officials with the 
state's Division of Coastal Manage- 

"Our rules make no distinction 
between values of coastal wetland 
types based on species, location or the 
nature of the surrounding water or 
land," Coastal Management Director 

10 MAY/ JUNE 1993 

Dance Around Coastal Issues . . . 

Roger Schecter wrote in a March 19 
memo to Preston Howard, director of 
Environmental Management. 

"Basically," Schecter wrote, 
"they are such a limited and impor- 
tant resource that they should be 
afforded the most 
protection possible 
under the law." 

Schecter also wrote 
that Environmental 
Management's propos- 
als to classify some 
wetlands based on the 
classification of 
adjacent waters might 
lead to a lack of 
protection for the very 
waters that need help 

Management officials 
say they're being 
careful to ensure that 
threatened waters, such 
as those sensitive to 
nutrients, are indeed 
protected. The EMC 
is expected to begin 
considering the issue 
in late summer or early 


at Oregon Inlet 

Out of state hands for now — 
but of interest to commercial fisher- 
men, geologists and environmental 
groups — are the proposed Oregon 
Inlet jetties. 

The 23-year-old controversy 
over the project escalated again 
recently, when Interior Secretary 

Bruce Babbitt visited North Carolina 
to promote President Clinton's 
national service initiative. 

During that visit, Gov. Jim Hunt 
urged Babbitt to allow the project to 
go forward. 

Steve Murray 

For years, the U.S. Department of 
Interior refused to permit the project, 
based on predictions that the jetties 
would cause erosion at the adjacent 
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge 
and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 

But in 1990, under pressure from 
Sen. Jesse Helms, R-NC; former Sen. 
Terry Sanford, D-NC; and former 
Gov. Jim Martin, then-Interior 
Secretary Manuel Lujan granted 
conditional permits for the twin mile- 
long rock structures. 

In December, the CRC cleared 

the way for the project to bypass a 
state ban on shoreline hardening by 
altering its rules to allow such 
structures — if their purpose is 
protecting commercial navigation 
areas of regional significance. 

The jetties have 
remained stalled, 
however, pending the 
revision of an environ- 
mental impact state- 
ment and the appro- 
priation of $84 million 
needed for construc- 

fishermen and many 
northeastern North 
Carolina officials have 
continued to push the 
project, saying it is 
necessary to keep the 
shoaling Oregon Inlet 
open and safe for 
people who make their 
living harvesting the 

But national 
environmental groups 
long have disagreed. 
In the wake of Hunt's 
request to Babbitt, those groups, 
along with several North Carolina 
scientists, have renewed their 
objections, asking Babbitt to with- 
draw federal support for the jetty 
project. Among their predictions: the 
jetties would exacerbate erosion on 
adjacent Hatteras Island and the 
project would increase fishing access 
in areas they consider already 

Babbitt has remained non- 
committal, saying only that he would 
study the issue. 



At the 


In the early months of the 1993 
session, North Carolina lawmakers 
did not introduce bills concerning 
the coastal environment or develop- 
ment — and some legislators say 
they don't expect to see any this 

However, several 
fisheries bills have 
surfaced, the most 
controversial of which 
may require that any 
person selling North 
Carolina fish have a 
license. That license, 
according to early 
versions of the bill in 
both the House and 
Senate, would cost $35 
for North Carolina 
residents and $250 for 

Also proposed this 
session are bills to 
provide money to 
continue a shellfish 
enhancement research 
program, to fund the 
support of the N.C. 
State University 
Seafood Laboratory and 
to transfer freshwater aquaculture 
licensing authority from the Division 
of Marine Fisheries to the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture. 



A decision on another shore- 
hardening project is expected this 

At the same time that it cleared 
the way for the Oregon Inlet jetties, 

the CRC agreed to allow erosion- 
control structures to protect historical 
sites of national significance — in 
other words, Fort Fisher. 

The Department of Cultural 
Resources has applied for a permit to 
build a revetment to protect the fort 
from the churning Atlantic Ocean. 
Schecter will make the final decision 
on that permit, which Coastal 
Management is reviewing now. 

Scoll D. Taylor 





Coastal Management has plans 
to ask legislators for money to add to 
the state's Public Beach and Water 
Access Program, division officials 
say. But first, the division needs to 
find a sponsor for the bill. 

Legislators first funded the 
access program in 1981, largely in 
response to the access difficulties 
created by increasing private ocean- 

front development. The program 
expanded two years later to include 
estuarine access. 

As of 1992, the division had 
spent $5.6 million in federal, state 
and local money to complete more 
than 135 projects, which provided 
220 access sites. 

The division wants to continue 
that expansion and to add riverine 
access sites to the program, says 
Jeanette Johnson, 
division spokes- 

No state money 
has been allocated for 
access since 1989. 


at the CRC? 
Not by the 


or the 


The Sierra Club 
and the N.C. Coastal 
Federation both had 
plans to ask legisla- 
tors to hasten the end 
of some Coastal 
Resources Commis- 
sion (CRC) members' 
terms by one year 

an attempt to allow Gov. Hunt to 
place his own members on the 
commission more quickly than the 
law currently allows. 

But Hunt apparently didn't 
favor the proposal, says environ- 
mental lobbyist Bill Holman. "So 
we dropped it," he says. 

But Hunt's administration has 
brought change to the CRC. After 
chairman Jim Harrington resigned, 
Hunt appointed member Gene B. 
Tomlinson of Southport to lead the 
panel as interim chairman. 

12 MAY/ JUNE 1993 

Tomlinson immediately instituted a 
public forum — time to be set aside 
at each CRC meeting for the public 
to address commission members. 

Environmentalists were pleased 
with the change. "It just sets the 
impression that the commission is 
really accessible," says Todd Miller, 
director of the Coastal Federation. 

Nine people spoke at the CRC's 
first public forum in March. 

Meanwhile, two 
commission seats 
remain vacant, one for 
an at-large member and 
the other for a local 
government representa- 
tive. Appointments 
could be made as early 
as May. 

Hunt also has 
appointed a new 
chairman to the Marine 
Fisheries Commission: 
Bob Lucas, a Selma 
attorney and sport- 
fisherman. Lucas 
replaced C.B. Caroon 
as chairman; the 
Southport crab proces- 
sor then resigned from 
the commission. 
Caroon 's seat is vacant; 
it must go to another 
seafood processor. 



setback distances required for new 
oceanfront development. Current 
setbacks — landward of the first line 
of stable vegetation — are 30 times 
the erosion rate for structures 
smaller than 5,000 square feet and 
60 times the erosion rate for other 
large structures. 

The erosion rates were last 
updated in 1986. The CRC adopted 
those in 1987. 

Scott D. Taylor 


Coastal Management officials 
will be updating erosion rates this 
year — a step that builders and 
would-be builders will be watching 

Using aerial photos of the coast 
taken in 1992, division scientists will 
determine average annual erosion 
rates for the 320 miles of North 
Carolina coastline. 

Those rates are used to determine 



Coastal Management is also 
striving to add more land to the N.C. 
National Estuarine Research 

Since 1982, the state (with the 
help of federal money) has pur- 
chased four sites to preserve natural 
areas and provide research sites for 
scientists and students. 

Those sites — Currituck Banks, 

Rachel Carson, Masonboro Island 
and Zeke's Island — all border the 
Atlantic. Coastal Management 
officials say they want to add some 
estuarine sites, possibly on the 
Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. 

Before they ask for money to 
buy land, however, officials want 
$10,000 in federal funds to do a one- 
year study to identify potential sites. 
Coastal Management wants scien- 
tists from Sea Grant 
and North Carolina 
universities to help 
develop that list, says 
Rich Shaw, the 
division's assistant 



Next year marks 
the 20th anniversary 
of the state's Coastal 
Area Management 
Act, or CAMA. 

The act, approved 
by legislators in 1974, 
was designed to 
balance economic 
development and the 
protection of natural 
resources in the 
state's 20 coastal 
CAMA required land-use 
planning in those counties and 
established the CRC, which regu- 
lates development in designated 
areas of environmental concern. 

State environmental officials, 
backed by the Coastal Federation, 
are expected to ask Gov. Hunt to 
appoint a blue-ribbon panel of 
experts to review CAMA's two 
decades, assessing its successes and 
its failures. ^ 




By Kathy Hart 

They're a scientific odd couple. 

First, there's Craig Sullivan, the 
Felix Unger sort, a zoologist at N.C. 
State University specializing in fish 

He's fastidiously neat, well- 
organized and intense; he waves charts 
and graphs around like flags at a 
Fourth of July parade. 

Speaking with a slight Boston 
accent and dressed with the care of a 
man concerned about his appearance, 
Sullivan seriously calls himself a "fish 
gynecologist" and talks about the 
reproductive cycles of striped bass 
with the kind of passion some men 
reserve for sports teams and fast cars. 

Then there's Ron Hodson, the 
Oscar Madison type, an aquaculture 
specialist and associate director of 
UNC Sea Grant. 

Hodson is kind of gruff, never 
minces words and dresses like the farm 
boy he once was. And, the 6-foot-3 
researcher is just about as at home in a 
pond of fish as the fish themselves. 

Put Sullivan and Hodson together, 
and you have a top-notch scientific 
team that knows as much about the life 
cycles and characteristics of striped 
bass, white bass and their mixed 
offspring, the hybrid, as they know 
about their own families. 

From the beginning of their 
scientific partnership in 1988, Hodson 
and Sullivan were determined to 
ensure the development and growth of 
a hybrid bass aquaculture industry. 

They wanted to spur farmers to 
forsake the plow for the pond and 
place the hybrid alongside catfish and 
trout in acres of U.S. production. 

To do that, the Sea Grant team 
needed to domesticate a parental stock 
of fish, called broodstock, to assure a 
ready supply of larvae and fingerlings. 
And the researchers wanted to gain 

But first the Sea Grant scientists 
had to solve some problems. 

Hybrid bass have been around 
for years. South Carolina researchers 
learned that fertilizing striped bass 
eggs with white bass sperm produced 
a hybrid bass that grew faster and 
was more disease-resistant and 
hardier than either of its parents. 

Researchers fertilize eggs with sperm. 

control over the reproductive cycle of 
the fish in hopes of spawning them 
more than once a year. 

If those two objectives could be 
met, then raising hybrid bass could 
become "as routine as raising broiler 
chickens," Sullivan says. 

Scoit D. Taylor 

Scientists hoped the hybrid would 
fill the void and the space on the 
menu left by drastic reductions of 
wild populations of striped bass, 
or rockfish as they are called by 

Scientists took the first steps 

14 MAY I JUNE 1993 


toward making the hybrid the food 
fish of tomorrow with ease. 

It was relatively simple to cross- 
fertilize the eggs and produce the 
hybrid larvae. Then Sea Grant re- 
searchers at NCSU found that hybrid 
stripers could be successfully raised in 
ponds. And researchers soon learned 
how to inject the striped bass and 
white bass with hormones that caused 
them to spawn. 

What wasn't easy was always 
getting a ready supply of viable eggs. 
Often the female stripers harvested 
from the wild were not far enough 
along in the maturation cycle to 

successfully use available hormones to 
force them to spawn healthy eggs. 

To comply with state regulations 
governing the catch of striped bass, the 
mother stripers had to be caught at the 
mouth of rivers such as the Roanoke 
and the Pasquotank, miles away from 

their spawning grounds and days to 
weeks away from completing their 
spawning cycle. 

Occasionally, researchers lucked 
upon a "ripe" female striped bass 
ready for spawning that produced 
healthy eggs receptive to white bass 
sperm. But the success rate was far 
below what was needed to sustain a 
growing, thriving aquaculture 
industry, and the technology didn't 
allow for a domesticated broodstock. 

Scientists, including Hodson, 
realized the research needed to take a 
few steps back before hybrid bass 
aquaculture could step forward. 

Researchers needed to completely 
understand striped bass and white 
bass physiology and most impor- 
tantly, their reproductive cycles, if 
the hybrid was going to make a 
splash on the aquaculture scene. 
That's why Hodson sought the 

help of Sullivan, a fish gynecologist 
and a new faculty member at NCSU. 
Together, the two wrote their first Sea 
Grant proposal in 1987 for a research 
project aimed at unlocking the secrets 
of striped bass physiology. 

The project received funding. 
Sullivan began his detailed laboratory 
work at the university while Hodson 
tested the team's theories and findings 
in an actual aquaculture setting at the 
NCSU Aquaculture Research Center in 

"First, we did a detailed character- 
ization of the striped bass," Sullivan 
says. "We looked at what hormones 
were present, the actions of these 
hormones and how to measure them. 
We developed early pregnancy tests for 
striped bass females and subjected the 
fish to ultrasounds and biopsies." 

Striped bass females, like all 
female fish, make their egg yolks in the 
liver, and this egg production occurs 
over a 10-month period. By taking 
blood samples, Sullivan could deter- 
mine if a female striper was sexually 
mature and capable of producing eggs 
for the next spawning season. 

Then came the larger question of 
how to force the striper mothers to 
release eggs, specifically healthy ones 
capable of hatching larvae. The answer 
came in the use of a new synthetically 
produced hormone, GnRHa. 

The hormone is combined with 
cellulose and cholesterol to form a 
pellet that can be injected under the 
skin of a female striped bass. The 
hormone affects the striper's brain, 
causing it to release another hormone, 
called gonadotropin, that sets the fish's 
reproductive maturation process in 
motion at an accelerated rate. The 
hormone works similarly on male 




white bass. 

By using the GnRHa 
hormone, Sullivan and 
Hodson can synchronize the 
spawning of the male white 
bass and female stripers. 
And better still, the females 
produce viable eggs ready 
for fertilization. 

The Sea Grant scientists 
are excited about their 
breakthrough because now 
they feel certain that 
hatcheries can produce a 
more consistent and larger 
supply of fingerlings to a 
hybrid bass industry that 
could be producing 10 
million pounds of fish by 
the turn of the century. And 
the discovery holds promise 
for a step Hodson has been 
awaiting since he began his 
striped bass work: domesti- 
cation of a broodstock. 

Don't think for a 
moment that this one 
accomplishment has Hodson 
and Sullivan sitting back on 
their heels. Quite the 

The researchers are hard at work 
testing other ways to manipulate the 
striper's reproductive cycle. 

Sullivan points to a series of charts 
on his laboratory wall to show the 
team's latest work on manipulating the 
fish with light and temperature. 

"By changing the water tempera- 
ture and light cycle, you can change 
the time the fish spawns," Sullivan 
says. "We have been able to spawn the 
fish in six-, nine- and twelve-month 

Sullivan admits that spawning 
female stripers every six months may 
be too much for the females to bear. 
However, it may be feasible to spawn 
them as often as every nine months. 

Jeannie Faris 

Craig Sullivan prepares hormone pellets. 

Ron Hodson checks striper eggs with microscope. 


C.R. Edgerton 

And with the kind of 
controls developed by the 
duo, aquaculturists may soon 
be spawning striped bass and 
white bass year-round. 

"We used to wait all year 
for that twelve-week period 
in the spring when the fish 
spawned," Sullivan says. 
"And then with each female 
striper, we only had a 
fifteen-minute window of 
spawning opportunity. 

"Now we're capable of 
spawning the fish year- 
round, and I'm waiting for 
the day when I can drive into 
McDonald's for a 'Mc- 
Rockfish' sandwich," he 

"No, don't say that," 
Hodson says from across the 
room. "I hope hybrid bass 
are never so cheap that we 
see them in McDonald's." 

Hodson envisions the 
hybrid as a high quality, 
gourmet fish fit for tables in 
upscale restaurants like 
Tavern on the Green in New 
York or Brennans in New Orleans. 

But restaurants, fast food or 
gourmet, aren't a big concern for the 
Sea Grant scientists. Hodson and 
Sullivan are busy transferring their 
technology to hybrid bass growers 
throughout the Southeast. 

So far, the team has worked with 
fish farmers in North Carolina, South 
Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland 
and Arkansas. And the researchers 
have extended their findings to foreign 
audiences in France, England, Scotland 
and Italy. Even Japanese scientists, 
who are considered among the world's 
leading aquaculture experts, have 
visited Sullivan's NCSU lab and the 
Pamlico facility to glean information 
from this scientific odd couple. □ 

16 MAY/JUNE 1993 






By Lundie Spence 

Tiny marine borers eating their 
way into the hulls of ships may have 
changed the course of civilization. 

In February 1588, the Spanish 
Armada sailed with 196 ships to 
attack England. It had taken months 
to outfit the ships with guns and 
crews. Once under way, the fleet was 
buffeted by North Sea winds in the 
English Channel and sent back to 
ports for emergency repairs. 

Months later, the ships again 
sailed toward England. But the 
victory that King Philip II of Spain 
thought he had won was lost as 
storms and Queen Elizabeth's navy 
sank ship after ship. By August 1588, 
the fleet was in shambles and scat- 
tered around the shores of the British 
Isles. Was it the North Sea winds, 
inept Spanish strategy, a superior 
British navy or Philip's hole-riddled 
ships that cost Spain the war and 
altered the course of history? 

Four hundred years later, some 
naval historians speculate that vessels 
in the Spanish Armada, infested with 
shipworms, were unable to withstand 
the heavy weather. 

Marine borers are typically two 
types of animals. Shipworms, or 
teredos, are mollusks, tiny clams with 
long, soft bodies — perhaps a foot in 
length. Boat repairers describe them as 
worms with bony heads. The hard 
parts are actually the two valves of the 
shell. Gribbles, also called sand fleas 
along parts of the Atlantic coast, are 
arthropods — crustaceans like shrimp 
and lobsters, although much smaller. 
Adults measure only about 5/8 inch in 
length. Gribbles are closely related to 
the wood lice or marine roaches that 
run around piers and floats. 

Although both borers are vegetar- 
ians, their styles of dining differ. 
Shipworms, like termites, have 
bacteria in their gut to break down 
wood fibers. But their main source of 
food is the plankton drawn into their 

Gribbles nibble on wood, using 
the digestive enzyme cellulase. They 
tend to follow in the path of wood rot 
or fungus, and fungi are the principal 

Was it the North Sea 
winds, inept Spanish 
strategy, a superior 
British navy or Philip's 
hole-riddled ships 
that cost Spain the 
war and altered the 
course of history? 

food of these crustaceans. Their 
tunnels provide a safe haven for 
shelter and reproduction. 

Shipworms can make large 
tunnels throughout wood. Gribbles 
make numerous, very small passage- 
ways just below the surface of wood. 
Shipworms can weaken wood much 
faster than gribbles, but each is an 



effective engineer. 

Shipworm and gribble damage 
have plagued maritime enterprises 
throughout recorded history, particu- 
larly in warmer waters. Warships, 
merchant craft and small coastal 
trading vessels had short lives before 
the 18th century. Two years without 
care and the bottom timbers exposed to 
the sea would be mined with tunnels. 

To take the bite out of these 
borers, shipbuilders from the Colum- 
bus era through the 1850s used wood 
sheathing. Planks of pine or fir were 
attached to the hull, with hair and pine 
tar sandwiched between. 

In 1758, the first copper sheath- 
ing was mounted to warships, using 
tar paper over the wood sheathing. 
Though costly, copper was so effective 
in preventing teredo boring that by the 

1790s, most British naval ships were 
sheathed with the metal. However, 
only a few well-built merchant ships 
could afford this kind of protection. 

Pitch and tar, the standard preven- 
tive treatment for Colonial craft, pro- 
tected the hull as long as no bare wood 
showed. But the coatings had to be 
reapplied often. 

To protect the keel timber, 
mariners attached a worm shoe. This 
sacrificial timber, which is still used 
today, attracted shipworms away from 
the keel. 

Portuguese and Japanese ship 
owners, although worlds apart, 
careened their vessels at the highest 
tide and surrounded them with straw. 
Then they set the straw afire. Their 
hope was to boil or steam the teredos 
to death in their tunnels without 
destroying the boat. 

Baltimore shipwrights, using an 
old Chinese treatment, brushed a 

bottom paint made of cayenne pepper 
and shellac on their hulls. Geoffrey 
Scofield, former curator of historical 
maritime technology at the N.C. 
Maritime Museum, said that pepper 
was added to cheap paint and used as 
a preventive in Caribbean islands. 
These traditional methods are still 
applied today. 

Georgia boatbuilders waited for 
the cold. When night temperatures 
were expected to drop below 26 F, 
they hauled vessels from the water. A 
freeze was considered successful if, in 
the warming of morning, slime oozed 
from hundreds of pinpoint holes in the 

hull. Then, each hole was laboriously 
scraped and sealed. 

Of course, one of the oldest and 
most energy-efficient ways to protect 
a vessel was, and is, to sail up a 
freshwater creek and dock there for 
three or four weeks. Marine borers 
have a low tolerance for fresh water. 
However, they can seal themselves up 
for weeks in poor environments. 
Although most borers prefer a normal 
seawater salinity of about 35 parts per 
thousand, some species can survive at 
least a month in brackish water of four 
parts per thousand. For effective 
treatment, mariners should locate 
flowing rivers of fresh water, not tidal 
currents in which the water frequently 
contains salt. 

Today, the most effective and 
controversial treatment for avoiding 
shipworm damage is the use of anti- 
fouling paints. Copper-based paints 
release metal ions into the adjacent 
water, preventing organisms from 
surviving on the painted surface. But 
copper, even in paint, is very expensive 
and has a short life span. 

Shipyards were experimenting 
with lead compounds by the 1700s. 
Longer-lasting heavy metals, such as 
arsenic, mercury and lead, were in- 
corporated into paints. But these metals 
are hazardous to workers preparing and 
applying them and are now banned. 

Recently, extremely toxic 
tributyltin (TBT) was incorporated into 
anti-fouling paints. Tests showed that 
TBT kept a hull free of surface 
organisms and prevented shipworm 
damage up to four years, but leaching 
of TBT into estuarine water, even in 
extremely low amounts (such as a few 
parts per trillion), can harm crabs and 
oysters. The use of these paints has 
now been restricted. 

The biology of shipworms can 
explain why wooden ships have 
problems and how some cures work. 
First, shipworms are bivalves, or two- 
shelled mollusks, related to clams and 

The animal consists of three basic 
parts: valves, a wormlike body and 

18 MAY/JUNE 1993 

pallets. The two shells are just boring 
tools. The edges of these shells have 
small teeth that rasp wood efficiently. 
The long, soft body extends in length 
from inches to feet, depending on 
age, environment and species. At the 
end nearest the outside of the hull, 
each teredo has a pair of calcified 
pallets that act as a plug in times of 

Otherwise, two siphons, sort of 
biological straws, extend into the 
outside water; one sucks in water for 
breathing and feeding on microscopic 
plankton, and the other flushes 
wastes. Contrary to popular belief, 

Scientists and 
engineers are 
trying to devise 
new preventive 
treatments that do 
not degrade the 
marine environment. 
Meanwhile, wooden 
boats continue 
to be vulnerable 
to borers. 

wood dust is not the major part of 
their diet. 

Shipworms vary in their repro- 
ductive patterns. In some species, 
fertilization of eggs and sperm occur 
in the water; in others, eggs are 
fertilized in the body. Either way, 
shipworms produce up to 100 million 
eggs per female. 

The fertilized egg develops into a 
free-swimming larva, moving weakly 
in the currents with tiny beating hairs 
called cilia. After two or three weeks, 
it assumes an adult form, loses its 
swimming ability and finds a wooden 

As with oyster larvae, luck plays 
a major role in finding suitable 
settlement. Tiny shipworm larvae 
could land on mud or rock or drift 
away in ocean currents, in which case 

they will not survive. Landing on 
chemically treated wood is just as 
lethal. Or the wood can be too 
crowded with other fouling organisms 
to provide a secure spot for shipworm 
larvae. Strong currents can carry 
larvae away before attachment; 
likewise, ship movement makes 
attachment difficult. Shipworm 
infestation occurs when ships are 
moored. Thus, the transformation 
period from swimmer to burrower is 
the weak link in the life of the 

When the larva or young adult 
shipworm finds a suitable spot, its 
shape continues to change. The shells 
become rasping tools, and the ciliated 
swimming parts disappear. It digs a 
tiny hole, just large enough to admit 
its body. As the shipworm lengthens 

and enlarges its internal burrow as it 
grows, the outside hole through 
which it entered remains the same 
size — about the diameter of a 

The shipworm lines its burrow 
with a calcareous coating. Bankia 
setacea, the major shipworm north of 
San Francisco, can grind and line a 
burrow up to 6 feet long. The burrows 
of Teredo navalis, common in the 
Chesapeake and warmer waters of the 
Atlantic and Pacific, measure 1 to 2 
feet in length. If the lining is worn or 
the outside hole enlarges beyond the 
capacity of the pallets to plug it, then 
shipworms are exposed to predation 
and the vagaries of water quality. 

Shipworms are found worldwide. 
Wooden ships, floating logs and 
ocean currents have carried the adults 
and larvae to all oceans, seas and 
estuaries. Temperature, salinity and 
the availability of wood are the 

limiting factors to their spread. 
Larvae are more susceptible to 
extremes in temperature and salinity, 
but adults are considered tolerant. 
Shipworm damage is more common 
and more quickly accomplished in 
warm, tropical waters. 

No one knows the limits of depth 
distribution. An unknown species of 
boring clam digested the Thank's 
elaborate woodwork on the ocean 
floor at a depth of 13,000 feet. 

Gribbles (Limnoria Ugnorwn) are 
different from shipworms in their life 
biology. Gribbles reproduce more 
like crabs. The female broods 
hundreds of fertilized eggs and then 
releases well-developed young into 
the water. They are able to start 
burrowing into suitable wood 
surfaces immediately. They actually 

use wood as food. As with ship- 
worms, the critical period for gribbles 
is their search for hospitable habitat. 
Coated, covered or painted surfaces 
deter the young from boring that 
initial hole and entering the wood. 

Research continues on ship- 
worms and gribbles. The economic 
impact on wooden structures such as 
boats, pilings and bulkheads is 
enormous. Borer-resistant woods, 
such as the trees from Fraser Island, 
Australia, are available and were used 
in pilings for the Suez Canal. 

Scientists and engineers are 
trying to devise new preventive 
treatments that do not degrade the 
marine environment. Meanwhile, 
wooden boats continue to be vulner- 
able to borers. Regular inspection and 
use of an anti-fouling paint on the 
boat's bottom can prevent infestation. 

(This story was originally printed 
in WoodenBoat Magazine.) 


m a r i n e advice 

?w Laws Ma 

Waves With Marinas 

Coastal marinas are a flash point in 
the simmering debate over water 

In the eyes of boating enthusiasts, 
they're a safe mooring place and a 
valuable point of entry to open water. 
To some others, the contaminants that 
seep from marinas are a threat to 
productive estuarine waters. 

Both points have merit, says 
Rich Novak, a Sea Grant marine 
advisory specialist. Yet it's 
possible to have easy marina 
access and measures to keep the 
water clean of boaters' sewage 
and polluted runoff. 

Increasingly, state and 
federal laws are shepherding 
marinas toward environmentally 
sensitive management practices 
that will protect our coastal 
waters and natural resources. The 
impacts of these laws can be felt all 
along North Carolina's coast, where 
more than 300 marinas rent slips and 
provide commercial services. 

But many marina operators are 
still in the dark about the changing 
regulations. Novak and Spencer 
Rogers, Sea Grant's coastal engineer- 
ing specialist, want to take the message 
to the docksides. 

"Marinas are a congregation of 
people," Novak says. "And with that 
comes the potential to pollute. Whether 
we say they're polluting or not, we see 
potential because marinas are on the 
water and could cause problems." 

First, Novak is educating boaters 
and marina operators about the Clean 
Vessel Act. Backed by Congress, this 
program will offer $40 million in 
grants over five years to help states 
build pumpout and dump stations for 
boaters' sewage and educate them to 
use the equipment. Pumpout stations 
are used to pump the waste from 

holding tanks; dump stations are used 
to empty portable toilets. 

Pumpouts are available at 40 of 
181 coastal marinas that responded to 
a recent survey by the N.C. Division 
of Coastal Management. The surveys 
were sent to 293 marinas in the coastal 
counties. Among those responding, 
25 had pumpouts open to the public. 

Typically, marinas install pump- 
outs when they seek a permit to 
renovate or build, Rogers says. But use 
is low because an estimated 90 percent 
of boaters still dump their waste over- 
board, often in violation of federal law. 

The Coastal Management survey 
found that pumpouts were used about 
1,300 times in 1991. The fee, ranging 
from free to $50, was the most influen- 
tial factor in the use of public pump- 

The survey also found that 14 of 
the responding marinas planned to 
install pumpout services within the next 
two years. Among the 103 that didn't 
offer the service, 79 percent cited lack 
of demand as the reason. 

"The marinas haven't seen an 
increase in requests for pumpouts," 
Rogers says. "In part because of that, 
they've not seen fit to invest $5,000 to 
$10,000 on motorized equipment and 
connections to land-based treatment 

One point is clear, Novak says. 
Boaters must be educated to use the 
equipment and shoulder the responsi- 
bility for water quality. 

Novak is part of a Sea Grant effort 
to secure pumpout funds for the region. 
The money, awarded by the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, is part of the 
Wallop-Breaux fund raised through 
taxes on fishing equipment 
and fuel. 

But boaters' sewage isn't the 
only water quality concern for 
marinas. Polluted runoff, 
also called nonpoint pollution, 
is another. 

Novak explains that marinas 
• - z can contaminate water by sand- 
blasting and cleaning boats with 
ii? toxic bottom paints and other 
S§ pollutants. Also, fuel can spill 
into the water, and the paved 
area is an easy avenue for pollution 
to wash away. 

As a result, marinas are being 
called on to engineer stormwater 
runoff plans and impoundments. 

North Carolina is among 29 states 
with a federally approved coastal zone 
management program that must submit 
new nonpoint pollution control pro- 
grams to the Environmental Protection 
Agency and the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration by July 
1995. Congress required this in its 
Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization 
Amendments of 1990. 

If marinas are heavily renovated, 
they may be subject to stricter siting 
and design standards suggested by 
EPA. The EPA guidelines may be 
adopted as law by most states, but 
boating interests have a two-year 
window to negotiate, Novak says. 
The nonpoint pollution control 
programs must be in place by 1999. 

Jeannie Faris 

20 MAY/JUNE 1993 

J r o m sound to sea 

Outer Banks Wild Cats 

Mary Willis' husband calls her the 
saint of Frisco. Debbie Martin is 
known as the cat lady of Avon. And 
Ocracoker Margaret Harris is best 
known by her 25 adopted "Ocracats." 
Though other feline fanciers dwell in 
these Outer Banks villages, these three 
women have a greater common bond 
— a soft spot for stray and wild cats 
and a commitment to curb 
their numbers through 
spaying and neutering. 

With collection jars 
placed in community motels 
and restaurants, each of 
these cat lovers has raised 
money to spay and neuter 
feral cats roaming Outer 
Banks back yards and back 
alleys. Martin's organiza- 
tion, Friends of Felines, has 
"fixed" more than 75 cats in 
its four years of existence; 
this year Avon's ferals are 
given rabies shots as well. 
Harris estimates she's 
spayed or neutered about 30 cats on 
the island since forming Ocracats in 
January. And Willis of CATS (Citi- 
zens Advocating Trapping and 
Sterilization) has fixed about 85 
Hatteras strays, 60 of which were 
treated with money collected since 
April 1992. 

"I figure that's at least 500 or 600 
kittens that aren't being born this time 
this year," says Willis, who patterned 
CATS after a national nonprofit 
organization called Alley Cat Allies 
(ACA). ACA advocates stabilizing the 
United States' estimated 60 million 
feral cats through sterilization. A feral 
cat is simply a domesticated cat that 
has gone wild or was bom in the wild. 

Willis says tourists have given 
generously to the cause and that some 
residents are more receptive to and 

tolerant of the sterilized ferals, 
especially the stray males, which 
before they were neutured "sprayed" 
urine on boats in a local marina. The 
caterwauling of many females in heat 
has also subsided. 

"After they were spayed and 
neutered, everyone's attitudes toward 
the cats changed," says Willis, adding 

that vaccinations for rabies, which is 
on the increase in some coastal areas, 
are provided now too. "They are 
keeping the rat population down. It 
has just made such a difference." 

Many of the cats are trapped and 
sterilized at the request of residents, 
who are often happy to feed the 
felines, but either can't or won't pay 
the fee for spaying and neutering or 
are unable to apprehend the strays. As 
time permits, Harris says she also tries 
to tame and place the animals in 

Overpopulation of cats is a 
worldwide dilemma, but ferals pose a 
unique problem on North Carolina's 
barrier islands. The Outer Banks are 
cramped quarters for this prolific 
species; the spits of seashore are also 
host to many tourists and much 

transience. Cottage renters often leave 
or lose pets, and irresponsible cat 
owners find dense parkland and 
maritime forests an irresistable dump- 
ing ground for unwanted kitten litters. 

"People who abandon cats delude 
themselves into thinking the animal 
finds a nice home and is happy," says 
D.D. Shumway, a Hatteras veterinar- 
ian who offers reduced fees 
to CATS and Friends of 

The Humane Society of 
the United States estimates 
that one unspayed female 
cat and her offspring can 
produce 420,000 kittens in 
seven years. Given these 
numbers, the cat sterilization 
advocates are doing a service 
to the community. Willis 
says her activity has posi- 
tively influenced pet owners 
on the island to spay or 
neuter their companions; 
she distributes reduced 
sterilization certificates from Friends 
of Animals to sweeten the deal. 

But not everyone is raving about 
the efforts of Willis and the other 
advocates. The Outer Banks SPCA 
(Society for the Prevention of Cruelty 
to Animals), which provides the area's 
animal control, frowns on the trap- 
sterilize-release programs. 

"We don't feel that is the humane 
solution," says President Gail 
Kowalski. "When we do collect a 
feral cat, that animal is euthanized 
as quickly as possible to lessen the 
chance of injury and minimize stress. 

"I think the important thing that a 
lot of people do forget is the ultimate 
welfare of the animal," she says. 
"Humans feel better in themselves 
spaying the animal and turning it 
loose." Continued 


Kowalski says it is hard enough to 
find homes for the shelter's docile 
strays and contends that ferals are 
dangerous and breed disease. 

"I guess the basic philosophy 
difference is some people say cats are 
not meant to live in the wild — that a 
cat without a human companion is not 
living a full life," says Shumway. 
"There are others who say yes, cats 
make fine pets, but they also live a 
happy, complete existence in the wild. 
As a veterinarian I can see both points 
of view. They are both aiming toward 
the same goal, which is reducing the 
population of feral cats." 

Just up N.C. 12 at Pea Island 
National Wildlife Refuge, feral cats 
are caught in Havahart (cage) traps 
and shot, says park biologist Bob 
Noffsinger. Removal of non-native 
species is consistent with park policy. 
The number of feral cats in the refuge 
is not known; Noffsinger estimates 10 
to 12 have been exterminated within 
the past year. 

Feral cats are blamed for the 
destruction of the eggs and young of 
nesting waterbirds such as gadwalls 
and black ducks, he says, adding that 
feral cats also prey on stilts and other 
wading birds, although they've never 
been caught in the act. 

"Not very often do you see a 
predator take something out there," 
says Noffsinger, adding that the only 
other culprits might be raccoons and 
the occasional mink. If raccoons 
become a problem, they will be 
relocated. Noffsinger says there is no 
appropriate place to relocate feral cats. 

Ries Collier, a biologist at Cape 
Hatteras National Seashore, says that 
the loss of piping plover nests shows 
"a fairly clear indication of cats." He 
says the seashore's only direct control 
program to date has been predator- 
proof trash cans at fish cleaning 
stations along the beach. 

Statistics linking feral cats and 
free-roaming housecats to the destruc- 

tion of wildlife and songbirds are 
copious indeed. The mere title of a 
1992 article in American City and 
County magazine is chilling: "Feral 
Cats and Silent Spring." In it, a Golden 
Gate Audubon Society spokesman 
attributes the extermination of wrens 
in a San Francisco park to the resident 
feral cat colony. Another Bay area 
naturalist quoted in the article esti- 
mates that millions of birds are 
destroyed each year by both feral and 
pet cats. 

But evidence from the other side 
of the fence suggests that feral cats are 
sometimes unfairly left holding the 
bag of blame for bird mortalities. For 
example, in San Francisco's Golden 
Gate Park, decline in bird numbers 
also coincided with new park land- 
scaping that altered habitats and food 
sources, according to a 1992 article in 
ACA's newsletter, Alley Cat Action. 
Ferals are a visible, convenient target, 
says ACA; since canaries warned coal 
miners of deadly gas levels, birds have 
been considered "indicators" of 
ecological distress. 

N.C. State University zoologist 
Roger Powell says free-roaming pet 
cats are probably a bigger hazard to 
birds and small mammals than feral 
cats. A well-fed pet cat that goes 
outdoors will still hunt, and in urban 
areas with less wildlife habitat, even 
slight predation can be detrimental. 

Free-roaming pet cats can be as 
dense as 200 per square mile, says 
Powell. "The density of feral cats is 
going to be relatively low," he says. 

The trap-sterilize-release philoso- 
phy adopted by ACA and the groups 
on the Outer Banks is based on a 
method now used in parts of the 
United Kingdom and South Africa. 
Adopted after extermination of 
colonies failed to rid areas of feral 
cats, the method is advocated by some 
veterinarians and zoologists. ACA and 
its supporters believe that as long as 
there is a food source — be it garbage, 

rodents or birds — other ferals will 
move in to claim the territory and breed 
to carrying capacity. The premise is that 
a sterilized colony will be healthier — 
because of reduced mating and fighting 
— and keep out encroachers. But trap- 
sterilize-release programs are encour- 
aged only in areas where there are 
people who agree to feed the animals. 

The situation of ferals on the Outer 
Banks may be another story. Feral cats 
are opportunistic feeders with an 
extremely varied diet. On small islands 
with flightless and ground-feeding birds 
and few or no native predators, the 
effects of feral cats can be harmful. 

"One of the most bizarre examples 
was the discovery and extinction of the 
Stephen Island wren ... by a single 
domestic cat," writes Andrew 
Kitchener in The Natural Histoiy of the 
Wild Cats. "This tiny island in the Cook 
Strait of New Zealand was home to an 
almost flightless native species of wren. 
In 1894, a lighthouse keeper arrived on 
the island with his cat, which dis- 
patched the entire population." 

The impact of feral cats varies by 
situation and is dependent on many 
factors, including available prey and 

Feral house cats are one of five 
non-native species cited in Birds and 
Mammals of the Cape Hatteras 
National Seashore, a 35-year inventory 
of the park's fauna. The others — 
which are also food sources for cats — 
include the house mouse, Norway rat, 
black rat and nutria. Though the effect 
of these non-natives is not well-known, 
it is "not natural and therefore probably 
not beneficial," writes co-author James 
Parnell, a University of North Carolina 
at Wilmington ornithologist. 

Though the debate over whether to 
sterilize or euthanize is fierce, both 
factions are drawing attention to a 
problem — uncontrolled feline breed- 
ing — that has everything to do with 
people and little to do with cats. 

Carla B. Burgess 

22 MAY I JUNE 1993 

CI f t deck 

Sea Grant Hosts Zebra 
Mussel Conference 

Industries and municipalities that 
pump large volumes of water would be 
hardest hit by an infestation of the 
zebra mussel, which can clog intake 
pipes and reduce pumping capacity. 
Already, millions of dollars have been 
spent in the Great Lakes to control the 
mussels and repair the damage to water 
treatment facilities, power plants, farms 
and other large-scale water pumping 

But operations in the mid- Atlantic 
can take precautions against these 
costly non-native mollusks. 

The Sea Grant programs of North 
Carolina and Virginia are hosting a 
conference to inform large water-users 
of the latest zebra mussel findings and 
to provide the most effective means of 
monitoring and control. 

The conference will be held June 
17-18 in Greensboro. Among other 
topics, experts will discuss the mol- 
lusks' impacts on agribusiness, pulp 
and paper industries, golf courses, 
water treatment, power production, 
aquaculture and navigation. 

Control methods — chemical, 
mechanical and filter — will also be 

For more information, call Barbara 
Doll, Sea Grant's coastal water quality 
specialist, at 919/515-5287. Or write 
Sea Grant at Box 8605, N.C. State 
University, Raleigh, NC 27695. 

N.C. 4-H Sailing and 
Marine Science Camp 

Summertime means great weather 
to enjoy the outdoors and camp. And 
this summer, the N.C. 4-H Sailing and 
Marine Science Camp is offering 1 1- 
to 16-year-olds the thrill of learning to 
sail and of exploring the wonders of 
the water beneath their sailboats. 

This June 20-26 camp combines 
the basics of sailing with classes, field 
trips and laboratory studies designed to 

teach youngsters about coastal re- 
sources and the complexities of a salt 
marsh. They learn to sail a Sunfish, 
and as their skills improve, advance 
to a catamaran. Campers also have a 
choice of camp activities such as 
swimming, canoeing, archery and 

Special features include field trips 
to the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll 
Shores, the N.C. Maritime Museum in 
Beaufort and the Croatan National 
Forest; a ferry ride to Hammocks 
Beach; lessons in setting up and 
maintaining saltwater aquariums and 
touch tanks; and exploration of marine 
science careers. 

The facilities, located near 
Swansboro, are accredited by the 
American Camping Association. 
Campers should register on June 20, 
2 to 4 p.m. The fee is $185. Space is 
limited to the first 1 10 paid applicants. 
Registration includes meals, lodging, 
insurance, field trips and equipment 

For more information, talk to a 
county Cooperative Extension Service 
4-H office. Or contact Martha Warner 
at the Department of 4-H Youth 
Development by writing Box 7606, 
NCSU, Raleigh, NC 27695-7606 or 
calling 919/515-3243. 

Friends of the Museum 
Sailing Program 

Friends of the Museum is sponsor- 
ing a junior program this summer to 
teach 8- to 15-year-olds to sail on 
Optimist dinghies built in the water- 
craft center of the N.C. Maritime 

The Optimist is the most popular 
junior training and racing pram in the 
world, with over 250,000 built since 

The sailing program is designed 
for beginners and uses the fun of 
sailing and the competition of racing to 
teach seamanship, navigation and 

maritime traditions to young sailors. 
It also opens the door to a sport that 
can provide a lifetime of pleasure while 
helping youngsters develop an attitude 
of self-reliance and appreciation for the 
forces of nature. 

The program director is certified 
by the U.S. Sailing Association as a 
Level 1 Dinghy Instructor and is 
certified by the Red Cross in first aid 
and CPR. Instruction will stress boat- 
ing safety as well as sailing skills. 

There will be four two-week 
courses, each with a morning and 
afternoon class, Monday through 

Session I runs June 14-25, Session 
II runs June 28-July 9, Session III runs 
July 12-23 and Session IV runs July 
26- Aug. 6. Cost for the two-week 
session is $100 per person. Children 
or grandchildren of Friends of the 
Museum members may participate 
for $90. Contact the museum, Monday 
through Friday, for an application. 
Either write the N.C. Maritime Mu- 
seum, 315 Front St., Beaufort, NC 
28516, or call 919/728-7317. 

Sea Grant Publishes 
Zebra Mussel Fact Sheet 

Reams of information have been 
published about the zebra mussel, from 
its destructive colonization of the Great 
Lakes to its voyage south through 
freshwater avenues. But until now, 
little had been written about the 
possibility for a colonization of the 
mid-Atlantic region, which includes 
North Carolina. 

The Mid-Atlantic Zebra Mussel 
Fact Sheet, published by UNC Sea 
Grant, is tailored to the East Coast 
region that also encompasses Virginia, 
Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. 

The six-page fact sheet was 
authored by Coastal Water Quality 
Specialist Barbara Doll, who drew on 
the expertise of Sea Grant staff in the 



other mid-Atlantic states. 

The publication explores the 
possible routes of entry the zebra 
mussel might take into this region and 
examines the environmental character- 
istics that would make the mid-Atlantic 
a hospitable host for the prolific mol- 
lusks. It also explores the mollusks' 
biology, reproduction, predation and 
dispersal methods, as well as the 
impacts of colonization on the region 
and possible control measures. 

A native of the Black, Caspian and 
Aral seas, the zebra mussel most likely 
arrived in the United States in the mid- 
1980s through the discharge of 
European shipping ballast water. They 
were discovered in Lake St. Clair in 
1988 and have spread rapidly into 
several major river systems. 

The fact sheet will help boaters, 
property owners, educators, extension 
workers and large water-users who 
might be impacted by the small, striped 
mollusk. The threat to the region lies in 
the zebra mussel's ability to thoroughly 
colonize hard surfaces, ruin equipment 
and block water intakes. 

The Mid-Atlantic Zebra Mussel 
Fact Sheet is free in quantities of 10 or 
less. Larger orders will cost 35 cents 
per fact sheet. To order, contact Sea 
Grant, Box 8605, NCSU, Raleigh, NC 
27695. Ask for publication UNC-SG- 

Get A Taste off 
Strange Seafood 

If you think sea lettuce soup will 
tingle your tastebuds or a periwinkle 
appetizer will leave your mouth 
watering, then buy tickets to the 17th 
annual Strange Seafood Exhibition at 
the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beau- 
fort on Aug. 17. 

Each year, the buffet of unusual 
ocean edibles attracts hundreds of 
hungry tasters. Attendees feast on 
exotics such as sea urchin, whelk, 
stringray, eel and mullet pluck, the 
gizzard of the mullet. 

The annual August event has 
become so popular that the Maritime 
Museum has begun limiting attendance 
to 250. Tickets for the Strange Seafood 
Exhibition go on sale June 1 at the 
museum for $15 each. 

For more information about the 
exhibition, call the museum at 919/ 

Sea Grant Launches 
Newsletter: WaterWise 

Water quality is an ever-growing 
concern among people who love the 
coast. But now more than ever, there's 
an urgency attached to understanding 
what's happening to our coastal and 
marine waters. 

To fishermen, both commercial 
and recreational, water quality has a 
bearing on the quality and availability 
of the catch. And it's weighty business 
to industries and local governments 
required by law to keep pace with new 
regulations that can be complex and 

UNC Sea Grant has launched its 
latest newsletter, WaterWise, out of a 
recognition that topical water quality 
information will help North Carolin- 
ians make wise decisions about their 
coastal resources. The free, quarterly 
publication targets an audience of 
municipal and county planners, policy- 
makers, businesses, developers affected 
by water quality regulations, environ- 
mental organizations and state regula- 
tors. Its contents are relevant to any- 
body who has more than a passing 
interest in water quality and coastal 
resources issues. 

Each edition of WaterWise will 
look in-depth at a timely water quality 
issue, giving it perspective and describ- 
ing related research. News items and a 
calendar of events will also be in- 

The inaugural issue looks to the 
future and the prospect of ocean 
outfalls, a system to collect and treat 
regional wastewater and release it into 

the ocean. The disposal of domestic 
wastewater into the coastal zone has 
become a crucial component in the 
balance between economic develop- 
ment and the protection of precious 
coastal habitats. Ocean outfall is a 
relatively unexplored disposal alterna- 
tive in North Carolina. 

Upcoming issues will be devoted 
to other topics of concern to the Tar 
Heel coast, such as the toxic dinoflagel- 
late that kills fish in our waters. 

Barbara Doll, Sea Grant's coastal 
water quality specialist and editor of 
WaterWise, will draw on Sea Grant's 
staff for expertise in marine extension, 
education, law and policy — as well 
as outside sources of information. To 
get onto the mailing list and receive a 
back copy of the first issue, contact Sea 
Grant, Box 8605, NCSU, Raleigh, NC 

Sea Grant Researcher 
Authors Book 

Sea Grant researcher David 
Griffith, an anthropologist at East 
Carolina University, has authored a 
book, Jones's Minimal: Low-Wage 
Labor in the United States, published 
by the State University of New York 

The book addresses how employ- 
ers in the U.S. seafood and poultry 
processing industries use race, gender, 
ethnicity and institutions of the state 
and the church to manipulate workers' 
networks and communities, and 
ultimately, to control the supplies and 
characteristics of their labor. 

Griffith pays particular attention 
to the growing use of new immigrant 
workers, women and minority workers 
in these food processing industries. 

The book costs $14.95 in paper- 
back and $44.50 in hardcover. It can be 
ordered from State University of New 
York Press, c/o CUP Services, P.O. 
Box 6525, Ithaca, NY 14851. Add $3 
to cover the cost of postage and 

24 MAY/JUNE 1993 

a c k talk 

Wood vs. Acrylic 

I finished reading Chemical and 
Engineering News and began reading 
Coastwatch (Jan./Feb. issue). On page 
20, Joyce Taylor recommends cutting 
raw seafood on an acrylic cutting 
board, never a wooden one. Appar- 
ently the people at the University of 
Wisconsin recommend just the 
opposite. Who's correct? 

H. Edwin Carley, 

Chalfont, PA 

You have raised an excellent 
question, one we don't have a clear 
answer for now. For those of you who 
haven't read about this controversy, 
University of Wisconsin (UW) 
researchers have found that bacteria 
have a greater survival rate on acrylic 
cutting boards than on wooden ones. 
This is contrary to what experts have 
been telling the public. They believed 
that disease-causing bacteria which 
soaked into porous wooden surfaces 
would later contaminate other 
uncooked foods cut on the surface, 
such as salad ingredients, if the board 
was not adequately cleaned. Plastic, 
they thought, was less hospitable to 
bacteria. But not so, say UW scien- 
tists. They claim bacteria disappear 
quickly from the surface of wooden 
cutting boards, without sanitizing and 
for a yet unknown reason . 

David Green, Sea Grant's 
seafood technology specialist, and 
Joyce Taylor, Sea Grant's seafood 
education agent, say they want to hold 
judgment on the study until more 
scientific information is published. A 
paper is being prepared for the 
Journal of Food Protection that will 
provide details about how the study 
was conducted, the conditions of the 
boards used and other factors, such 
as temperature. These variables could 
greatly affect the outcome of the 
study. Green, for instance, would like 

to know the conditions of the wooden 
boards. Were they new and smooth? 
Or were they older boards full of 
nicks and cuts? Until the paper is 
published and the study is validated 
by other researchers, Green and 
Taylor say home cooks can use either 
type of board. Green stresses that it is 
not the type of board used, but how 
well it is cleaned after cutting meats 
and seafood that makes the difference. 
Under commercial conditions, public 
health regulations require food- 
contact surfaces be smooth and 
readily cleanable, a condition which 
disqualifies wood. Rest assured that 
Sea Grant's seafood experts will be 
watching for further information on 
this controversy and that Coastwatch 
will offer you that information as soon 
we can. 

Reply Not 
Good Enough 

I just received your Jan./Feb. '93 
issue of Coastwatch. I noticed you 
decided to respond to my letter by 
placing it in your letters column and 
letting your readers decide. 

Your reason stated for not 
mentioning the Year of the Indian is 
unacceptable. You fail to realize the 
significance of the proclamation 
signed by the president. This honor 
was for all American Indians, past and 
present, and I feel strongly you could 
have added a great deal more to your 
Sept./Oct. issue by calling your 
readers' attention to the special year. 
Instead you chose to ignore it, and in 
effect denied the Carolina Indians the 
honor. It's like saying, "It's not for 

Well, the Year of the American 
Indian has passed but will not be 
forgotten as long as I'm around. 

Another event is coming up. Full 
moon March 8 begins the Algonquian 
Indian New Year 12,897. We share 

this with everyone. If you would like 
to celebrate the new year, we welcome 
you to do so. 

Pat Rollingcloud, 

Pittsboro, NC 

/ know you find this hard to 
believe, but none of the Native Ameri- 
can experts, archaeologists or Native 
Americans that we interviewed for our 
articles mentioned this proclamation. 
And since our focus was primarily on 
Native American history prior to 
English contact, we saw nothing about 
the proclamation in our background 

Obviously, you put great store in 
this presidential proclamation. But we 
felt it was better to honor North Caro- 
lina Native Americans by dispersing 
accurate information about their 
history and their tremendous contribu- 
tions to our present society. 

Liked Fishing Issue 

The recent issue of Coastwatch 
on commercial fishing was very good. 
You managed to present an even- 
handed report on the business, which 
is rare to see these days. I've been 
shrimping here in Beaufort, S.C., for 
16 years, putting my degree in psychol- 
ogy from N.C. State University to great 
use. Keep up the good work. 

Steve Kerchner, 

St. Helena, SC 

Coastwatch wants to hear from you 
on topics relating to the North Caro- 
lina coast. Letters should be no longer 
than 250 words and should contain the 
author's name, address and telephone 
number. Letters may be edited for style. 
Send all correspondence to Coast- 
watch, UNC Sea Grant, Box 8605, 
N.C. State University, Raleigh, NC 
27695. Opinions expressed on this 
page are not necessarily those of 
UNC Sea Grant employees and staff. 


















do *> 
O inn 








UNC Sea Grant July/August 1993 $2.50 

Idhiii r mini* 

All Along 
the Shore 

c oastwatch 

Coastwatch Staff: 

Kathy Hart, Managing Editor 
Jeannie Faris and Carla B. Burgess, 

Staff Writers and Editors 
L. Noble, Designer 
Debra Lynch, Circulation Manager 

The University of North Carolina Sea 
Grant College Program is a federal/ 
state program that promotes the wise 
use of our coastal and marine re- 
sources through research, extension 
and education. It joined the National 
Sea Grant College Network in 1970 as 
an institutional program. Six years 
later, it was designated a Sea Grant 
College. Today, UNC Sea Grant sup- 
ports several research projects, a 12- 
member extension program and three 
communicators. B.J. Copeland is di- 
rector. The program is funded by the 
U.S. Department of Commerce's Na- 
tional Oceanic and Atmospheric Ad- 
ministration and the state through the 
University of North Carolina. 

Coastwatch (ISSN 1068-784X) is 
published six times a year for $12 by 
the University of North Carolina Sea 
Grant College Program, N.C. State 
University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8605. 
Application to Mail at Second-Class 
Postage Rates is pending at Raleigh, 
NC. Telephone: 919/515-2454. Fax: 

POSTMASTER: Send address 
changes to Coastwatch, UNC Sea 
Grant, P.O. Box 8605, N.C. State 
University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8605. 

Front cover photo of driftwood by 
Lundie Spence. 

Inside front cover photo of children at 
play by Steve Murray. 

Printed on recycled paper 

by H ighland Press I nc. in f\ 

Fayetteville,N.C. -<r 

ft' o m the top 

Dear Readers: 

Is a coastal vacation on your summer schedule? If it 
is, be sure to take your Coastwatch along as a guide to 
seaside critters, beach safety and a historical site called 

First, Jeannie Faris provides a field guide to the 
creatures that live and feed along the beachfront, from the 
base of the dunes to the breaking waves. This inhospitable 
habitat where land meets sea is home to a host of critters 
— ghost crabs, velvet ants, willets, mole crabs — capable 
of withstanding crashing waves, arid sands and the wax 
and wane of the tides. 

Outside the Albemarle town of Creswell, Carla 
Burgess introduces us to a historic plantation called 
Somerset and an energetic woman, Dot Redford, intent on 
educating visitors about plantation life and, most impor- 
tantly, about the people — the African slaves — who 
made it thrive. 

Back at the beach, I familiarize readers with the 
rules of the sand. Understanding currents, exercising 
restraint and knowing your own physical limitations can 

In t h 

go a long way toward making your beach vacation a safe 
and happy experience. 

We have a correction from our last Coastwatch. In 
the story about North Carolina lighthouses, it was stated 
that only three of the seven lighthouses still flash their 
beams. That's incorrect. Six of the lighthouses are in 
working order. The Cape Lookout Light flashes 24 hours 
a day. The Currituck, Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras, 
Ocracoke and Oak Island lighthouses flash from dusk to 
dawn and in times of low visibility. Only the Bald Head 
Lighthouse is not operable. But many people think it does 
work because a regular light burns at the top of the 
lighthouse at night, giving it visibility from the mainland 
and the illusion of being operable. 

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the First 
Citizens Bank Big Sweep, the nation's largest statewide 
waterway litter cleanup, Sept. 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
Cleanup sites will be scattered statewide, so choose one 
and make a dent in the accumulation of waterway debris. 

Until next time, 

Kathy Hart 

is issue 

Coastal Creatures ... 2 

Awakening Somerset: 
The Story Beyond the Big House ... 10 

Page 10 
Somerset Awakening 

Page 2 
Coastal Creatures 

Keeping History Whole ... 15 

Shore Safety for the Summer ... 16 
Beach Dangers ... 20 

From Sound to Sea 

Homegrown Critters ... 22 

The Aft Deck ... 23 
Back Talk... 24 

Page 16 
Summer Safety 


Ghost Crab 


By Jeannie Faris 

Picture your favorite beach. Now 
think how you'd describe it to some- 
one who's never been there. 

Chances are, you'd paint a mental 
portrait of crystalline sand, dunes 
capped with sea oats, the quietening 
rhythm of waves, sun on the sea. The 

These small coastal wonders can be dwarfed 
by the sheer scale of the seashore. 
Though they don't leave footprints like ours, 
they do leave other clues of their presence. 

coastline you conjure is probably 
nature's sweeping collision of land, 
water and wind. 

But think again. What about the 
little critters that live in the sand and 
the shallow ocean waters? These small 
coastal wonders can be dwarfed by the 
sheer scale of the seashore. Though 

they don't leave footprints like ours, 
they do leave other clues of their pres- 

Beachgoers can tune in to these 
clues and learn to identify and appreci- 
ate these creatures, says Lundie Spence, 
Sea Grant's marine education specialist. 
"You don't necessarily need a nature 
guide. Just be willing to get a little wet 
and sandy," she says. 

The water's edge is a good place to 

Scoop up a double handful of sand 
after a wave washes over. The tickling 
of little feet digging into your palm is a 
mole crab doing what comes naturally. 
This tiny crustacean, no more than 1/2 
to 1 inch long, lives at the surf's edge 
and digs its body backward into the 
sand after a wave passes. 

In that same handful of sand, you 
might find a few coquina clams — tiny, 
colorful mollusks that also bury them- 
selves in the surf. 


Cabbage Head Jellyfish 


Both creatures rely on the sand to 
protect them and the sea to bring them 
food. And both are a tasty snack for 
shorebirds that socialize at the water- 
line and count on the outgoing waves 
to remove the sandy camouflage. 

You can watch this high stakes 
hide-and-seek on any summertime 
day. These small creatures are perma- 
nent residents of the swash or inter- 
tidal zone, which is one of three dis- 
tinct beach zones that are home to ani- 
mals specially equipped to live there. 

Equally compelling are the crea- 
tures that live in the shallows and 
wave-churned waters of the subtidal 
zone and the desert-dry strand of the 
supratidal zone. 


This is the area of beach where 
you build drip castles with wet sand or 
sit low in a lounge chair to cool your 

feet in the surf. It's where you feel 
your toes sink as a wave washes sand 
from beneath them. 

The constant push and pull of 
sand is key to the survival of animals 
that live here. Waves lap at the sand, 
removing the creatures' protective 
cover and delivering food; tides reach 
high and then low again. 

Few but the heartiest animals can 
live in this zone. 

You can spot the mole crab in its 
shallow burrow by the V-shaped an- 
tennae it extends to filter backwash 
for plankton. Perhaps better known as 
the sand fiddler, it is not a true crab at 
all and has no pincers. This egg- 
shaped crustacean can be identified by 
gender by the orange patch of eggs a 
mature female carries on her under- 
belly in the summer. 

The colorful coquina clam, only 
1/2 to 3/4 inch long, is one of the 
smallest mollusks on the beach. It's 

also among the most vivid, with solid, 
rayed and ringed patterns in white, 
blue, yellow, red and purple. It digs 
into the sand with its foot and lifts its 
siphons into the water. Sometimes 
colonies as dense as 1,500 clams per 
square foot color the sands of Carolina 

Many of us walk past the surf 
without giving a thought to these ani- 
mals, but kids will spend hours dig- 
ging them out of the sand, says Andy 
Wood, curator of education at the N.C. 
Aquarium at Fort Fisher. 

"A kid will run up to his parents 
with a great big mole crab, and if 
they're not familiar with it, they'll say 
it's a pretty shell," Wood says. "And 
then when they flip it over and it 
moves all those wriggly legs, they start 
screaming. They tell the kid to put it 
down or he'll get pinched." 

With a little experience, though, 


Horseshoe Crab 

Sand Dollar 

many parents take an interest in the 
marine life at the waterline and will 
join their kids there, bucket in tow, to 
hunt mole crabs and coquina clams, 
he says. 

In their ever-shifting burrows, 
these creatures are also easy prey to 
the beak of the gray-and-white sand- 
erling. This supercharged bird, only 
2 or 3 ounces, skitters behind the 
waves to eat creatures exposed by the 
backwash. Unlike many shorebirds 
that feed in the marsh at low tide and 
the beach at high tide, the sanderling 
is primarily a beach feeder. 

It can be seen fraternizing and 
eating with the ruddy turnstone, an- 
other common shorebird. The name 
turnstone comes from the bird's 
feeding habits — it turns over shells, 
stones and seaweed with its beak in 
search of beach fleas, fly larvae and 
other animals that are found in the 
drift line. Its distinctive black bill is 
short and slightly upturned. It ap- 
pears to be wearing a black vest, with 
a black-and-white face mask and or- 
ange legs. 

A third bird that patrols the 

shoreline is the willet, which is most 
easily identified in flight. Only then 
does it flash its unusual chevron pat- 
tern — a wide V — of white and 
black stripes across its wings. It 
stands a foot tall, considerably larger 
than the sanderling, and wanders the 
waterline probing with a long bill for 
mole crabs and other small animals. 

These birds entertain center- 
stage on nearly all North Carolina 
coastlines. But perhaps the best- 
known shorebirds are gulls and terns. 
Because they are similar in appear- 
ance — white with black or gray 
markings — they are frequently mis- 
taken as the same bird. 

"Most people don't know much 
about shorebirds," says JoAnne 
Powell, curator of education at the 
N.C. Maritime Museum. "They see 
terns diving, and because they're at 
the beach they think these are sea 
gulls. To them, terns are gulls." 

But differences do set the birds 

For one, the tern is more slender 
than a gull and has a straight, slim 
bill and forked tail. The gull has a 

thick bill and square tail. 

And any beach picnicker knows 
that a gull will circle overhead, beg- 
ging shamelessly for scraps. It fishes 
occasionally, picking its prey from 
the surface of the water. But it prima- 
rily scavenges, gathering quickly at 
feeding sites in reply to the call of 
the first gull on the scene. 

The tern, on the other hand, is a 
pursuit-oriented predator. It doesn't 
scavenge, but fishes with headfirst 
dives from the air. It typically swal- 
lows its catch while flying or takes it 
back to its offspring. 

Gulls and terns also have differ- 
ent ideas about rearing their young. 
A parent tern, for instance, carries 
tiny fish in its beak and thrusts them 
into the youngsters' gullets. A gull 
simply regurgitates already-swal- 
lowed food onto the ground and the 
offspring scoop it up. 


This beach zone is where you 
see the oiled-down sunbathers 
stretched across blankets or matched 



Mole Crab 

off at a volleyball net — the region 
that reaches from the damp waterline 
to the arid dunes. 

It is here that the desert beach 
community lives. And few species, 
most of them arthropods, can with- 
stand the intense heat and light. 

The ghost crab, though perfectly 
camouflaged, is perhaps the most fa- 
miliar of these sand-dwelling resi- 
dents. If nothing else, its front-and- 
back-entranced hole is a common 
sight to anyone who's spent time in 
the sand. Curious children sometimes 
mistakenly call them snake holes, 
Wood says. 

With a sideways scurry on spin- 
dly, jointed legs, the ghost crab pre- 
fers to leave its burrow under the 
cover of darkness. But nature some- 
times forces it to make light, feathery 
tracks across the sand during the day 
to wet its gills. It also steps out rou- 
tinely for a detritus meal left by the 
last high tide or to sample beach fleas, 
mole crabs, coquina clams or sea 
turtle hatchlings. 

The plant and animal debris that 
ghost crabs find so tasty arrives spe- 

cial delivery from the ocean on its two 
daily high tides. One of the richest 
food sources in the marine environ- 
ment, this debris provides nourishment 
and protection for many creatures that 
live here. 

The sand hopper scavenges these 
stranded remains and sometimes lives 
under them or in a burrow nearby. This 
1/8- to 1-inch crustacean looks like a 
cross between a shrimp and a flea, and 
it can be seen hopping around the 
strand line when its hiding place is dis- 
turbed. Some can also deliver an itch- 
ing bite. 

At the dune line you can find the 
raised tunnel of the mole cricket, an 
insect that resembles its landlubbing 
namesake — the cricket. A vegetarian, 
this beach creature favors young roots 
and the seedlings of dune plants that it 
burrows under in the daytime. 

The digger wasp also burrows un- 
der the scorching surface of the upper 
beach to the cooler sands where it 
keeps its young. The wasp will cover 
the burrow to protect the offspring 
from predators and parasites. It preys 
on flying insects, pulling them into the 

nest to nourish its larvae. 

It shares these sands with the vel- 
vet ant, which is actually a fiery red 
wingless wasp with a painful sting. Its 
body is furred for insulation. The fe- 
male lays her eggs in the nest of the 
digger wasp, where the hatchlings 
feed on the wasp's larvae. 

Real ants are the spoils of the ant 
lion, a ticklike insect with grasping 
jaws that lies in wait for its prey at the 
bottom of a sandy funnel. When a 
hapless ant spills into the funnel, 2 
inches wide by 2 inches deep, it can- 
not gain footing to climb out. The 
sandy-colored, 1/4-inch ant lion then 
has its next meal within reach. 

The earwig, a slender, elongated 
insect with prominent pincers, gets its 
unusual name from an old tale that it 
crawls into the ears of sleeping chil- 
dren and sews them up. The 1/2- to 
3/4-inch insect does prefer to step out 
at night, when it scavenges on beach 
and dune refuse or eats the larvae of 
other insects. It seeks shelter under the 
beach debris by day. 

The beach wrack that sustains 



Royal Tern 

Black Skimmer 

these upper-beach communities holds 
other treasures as well. When sargas- 
sum seaweed blows ashore on strong 
southeast winds from the Gulf 
Stream, its cargo can include tropical 
fish and other animals that use it for 
shelter, Wood says. 

"Attached are all kinds of differ- 
ent animals and algae," he says. "And 
inside the clump, if you find it fresh, 
there's a chance you'll find dead fish 
or even live fish if they're still moist." 

Look for a long-leafed, brown 
plant with tiny air sacs. Tangled 
within, you might see pipe fish, file 
fish, sea horses, crabs, snails and sea 
slugs. This landing is a great find for 
beachcombers, but it's a field day for 
the ghost crab and other scavengers 
that rely on the tides to deliver their 
next meal. 

You might also see purple bubble 
shells washed in from the Gulf 
Stream, sometimes by the thousands, 
or stranded sea urchins, sand dollars 
and starfish bleached by the sun. 

But perhaps the most remarkable 
sight you could encounter in this zone 
is a female sea turtle trudging ashore 

to lay eggs in the sand. This is a 
nighttime ritual that occurs during 
summer months on mostly undis- 
turbed beaches. The endangered log- 
gerhead and green turtles are two 
species that routinely nest on Caro- 
lina beaches. 

Remember, if you happen onto 
this nesting ritual, turtles are dis- 
turbed by flashlights and voices. 
Give the turtle her space. And in 45 
to 80 days, a batch of tiny hatchlings 
will dig out of the sand at night and 
head into the ocean, guided only by 
moonlight. The odds, however, are 
stacked against their survival. Hatch- 
lings must maneuver an obstacle 
course over the sand and past hungry 
predators such as ghost crabs, gulls 
and raccoons. Nighttime is the right 
time to see many of these coastal ani- 
mals - from ghost crabs near the 
dunes to fish in the shallows - be- 
cause they're out looking for food. 
On dark nights, you can see hun- 
dreds of ghost crabs hunting in the 
swash or mole crabs glowing a faint 
green from their diet of biolumines- 
cent microorganisms. 

"This is a wonderful time to ex- 
plore the beach," Powell says. 


This is the wettest of the three 
beach zones, where a raft serves you 
better than a lawn chair, and a wave 
carries you faster than your feet can. 
Here, where the waves churn shallow 
coastal waters, small fish and a bevy of 
unique sea creatures live. 

This zone is especially rich in life 
you can't see — the microscopic phy- 
toplankton and zooplankton that hang 
in the water. In turn, it nourishes the 
fountain of life that springs out of this 

If you pick your time right — usu- 
ally the still of early morning or 
evening — you can see schools of 
small fish running in the thinning 
crests of waves just before they break, 
says Spence of Sea Grant. The translu- 
cent green water frames the hand-sized 
fish, usually menhaden, like an 

Another favorite among children 
are the surf fish — the minnowlike sil- 


Sea Urchins 


ver perch, silversides and killifish that 
swim in wading waters. Visible from 
above as a flash or a shadow, these 
underwater moving targets are much 
too fast for young hands or a bucket to 

Beyond the shallows, you can find 
sand dollars and starfish living near 
sandy, offshore spits. Most people 
know them best as the bleached skel- 
etons that they gather from the beach 
for jewelry and decorations. 

When alive, however, the cookie- 
shaped sand dollar plows slowly under 
loose sand on the ocean floor using its 
brown-green velvety spines for loco- 
motion. As it walks, tubes tipped with 
suction discs move organic particles 
and animals into its central mouth. 
The chewing apparatus, called a 
"peace dove" for its dovelike appear- 
ance, is the remnant that rattles when 
its skeleton is shaken. 

The five-legged starfish, another 
bottom dweller, uses hundreds of tiny 
tubelike feet on its underside to travel 
over sand. When it comes across a 
meal, such as a clam or oyster, it 
wraps its arms around the prey, pries 

open the shell and everts its stomach. 
It digests the soft parts and draws its 
stomach back in. You can see its kin- 
ship to the sand dollar in the five- 
rayed pattern they have in common. 

Yet another kinship in these wa- 
ters is shared by the crustaceans, the 
seaside equivalent of insects. 

This comparison to insects is es- 
pecially true for shrimp, which were 
once called "bugs" by coastal residents 
and not widely eaten. Today the most 
consumed seafood in the United 
States, certain species of shrimp can 
be found in the shallows from early 
summer to fall. 

Its subtidal neighbor, the blue 
crab, is also likely to end up on a din- 
ner plate. Olive-green with blue claws 
and legs, it can crawl across the bot- 
tom, swim rapidly or burrow into the 
sandy bottom for protection. The fe- 
male is distinguished by her red-tipped 
claws. The blue crab is a scavenger 
and capable predator, feeding on small 
fish, shrimp and other crabs. Though it 
can be found off the beach, it spends 
most of its life in the brackish water of 

The surf equivalent of the blue 
crab is the look-alike speckled crab, 
which can be distinguished by the 
flecked pattern on its shell. An oppor- 
tunistic feeder, the speckled crab 
moves up with high tide to prey on 
mole crabs and coquina clams. It is 
also a good swimmer and catches fish 
whenever it can. 

These crabs share the subtidal 
zone with the horseshoe crab, which is 
not really a true crab or even a crusta- 
cean. Its closest living relative is a spi- 
der, which is evident when you look at 
the jointed legs under its armor. Up- 
right, it looks like a crushed helmet 
with a serrated tail. But don't let this 
creature's ominous appearance or 
name startle you. It's harmless. It ven- 
tures ashore from its home in the shal- 
lows to mate in early summer and to 
leave fertilized eggs in the sand. It then 
returns to its daily task of plowing 
through bottom sand and mud, feeding 
on mollusks, crustaceans, worms and 
other small animals. 

A likelier threat to swimmers is 
the jellyfish, a pulsing, translucent in- 




vertebrate with tentacles for trapping 
prey. Its long tentacles can sting, but 
this primitive animal does not give 
chase. Rather, the passive jellyfish is 
washed inland by offshore storms and 
passed along the coast by currents. 
During summer spawning months, 
jellyfish release larvae into the water 
that can also cause swimmers some 
skin irritation. 

The venomous defense of the 
stingray is another shallow-water haz- 
ard, especially to bare feet. Like the 
cownose ray and its harmless cousin, 
the skate, the stingray has a long, thin 
tail. But it also has a barb on its tail 
that can cut the skin and deliver a 
painful slime. It feeds on a rising tide, 
so avoid injury by shuffling in shal- 
low, murky water. 

And like the horseshoe crab, the 
appearances of the skate and ray are 
more menacing than their behavior. 
Their unusual, pancake-flat bodies 
have pectoral fins like wings. Both 
skates and rays stay close to the ocean 
floor, flapping their wings and stirring 
mud and sand to find their food. Their 
favorite meals are crabs, shellfish, 
worms, small fish and shrimp. 

on wing 

Unlike the sanderling, gull and 
willet, many species of birds cannot be 
pegged to a particular beach zone. It's 
simplest to say they're "on wing." 

Fortunately in North Carolina, 
many beaches are still relatively undis- 
turbed. Even the most tepid bird enthu- 
siast can watch from a lawn-chair per- 
spective as an osprey dives like a spear 
for a fish, or a vivid, red-billed oyster- 
catcher probes shellfish for dinner. 

Their beaks, first, can tell you 
about their lifestyles and diets. Con- 
sider the differences between the thin 
bill of the tiny sanderling, which 
probes for mole crabs, and the power- 
ful beak of the pelican, which gulps up 
prey and water. 

Beaks, however, aren't the only 
tool for catching food. The sturdy 
osprey fishes with its feet. When it 
sights its prey in the water, it hovers, 
folds its huge wings and dives. Grab- 
bing the fish with its talons, this bird 
sometimes submerges itself entirely. 
With a shake like a dog, it sheds the 
water and powerfully lifts itself and 
prey aloft. 

Also called a fishhawk, the osprey 


is recognized by its 5-foot wingspan 
and characteristic crook in its wings. 
Its feathers are dark above, white be- 
low, with a dark stripe running 
across its head and through its eye. 

Another large coastal bird, the 
brown pelican, has a wingspan up to 
6 or 7 feet, though it's light for its 
size at only 8 pounds. The pelican's 
beak is long and solid with a pouch 
at the bottom to store water that it 
gulps when it dives headfirst for fish. 
It forces the water out through gaps 
in the side of its beak and swallows 
the prey. 

The unique feeding habits of the 
black skimmer also set it apart from 
other coastal birds. This graceful 
flyer catches food by skimming just 
above the water with its lower bill 
cutting the surface. When it hits an 
object with its beak, the upper jaw 
snaps down and grabs hold. This 
striking bird — black on top and 
white on bottom with a red, black- 
tipped bill — feeds more in the early 
evening and night, though it can be 
seen fishing during the day. And be- 
cause it prefers a smooth surface, it 
feeds more on the still backwaters of 

8 JULY/ AUGUST 1993 


tidal creeks than the ocean. 

The oystercatcher is best known 
for its long red beak, which it uses to 
open shellfish and prey on small sea- 
shore creatures. A heavy-bodied bird 
with white underbelly and black 
head and back, it doesn't mingle 
with other species when it feeds. It 
does, however, nest with terns. 

Human destruction of nesting 
grounds used by the oystercatcher 
and others — such as the skimmer, 
tern and gull — can take a toll on 
the vitality of bird populations, says 
Peter Meyer, author of Nature Guide 
to the Carolina Coast. 

Growth on beaches has forced 
ground nesters to retreat to the safety 
of our national parks, estuarine re- 
serves, spoil banks and uninhabited 
islands, where their populations have 
been fairly stable. 

"We've seen what overbuilding 
and construction of rigid structures 
can do, how you lose the beach, lose 
habitat," Meyer says. "I think we 
need to open people's eyes to the 
splendor and the need for protection. 
North Carolina is making some 
pretty good efforts compared to other 

states. ... If you can't learn from your 
mistakes, that would be a sin." 

On the whole, Meyer says, Tar 
Heel beaches are still among the better 
protected for its critter communities. 
That's because people are making that 
crucial leap from thinking of the coast- 
line as a daytime spot for sun and fun 
to a fragile environment worthy of re- 
spect and long-term care. 

The small gestures are important. 

Sea Gull 

take living creatures home with you 
and don't destroy their homes. Even 
an innocent game among children to 
excavate a ghost crab hole could col- 
lapse its burrow. 

"This is (the animals') environ- 
ment, and we in a sense are intruding 
in it when we go onto the beach," 
Powell says. "I tell (children's 
groups) that we're visiting, and after 
we leave, the animals have to make 

-Always leave the beach as you found it, or better. 
Pick up your trash — and somebody else's — 
and leave the animals as they were. 
Don't take living creatures home with you 
and don't destroy their homes. 

For instance, respect birds' nest- 
ing grounds. Turn around when parent 
birds dive at your head because you've 
wandered into their nesting area; 
they've left their eggs unprotected in 
the sun to chase you off. 

And always leave the beach as 
you found it, or better. Pick up your 
trash — and somebody else's — and 
leave the animals as they were. Don't 

their daily living out of this area. So 
the less we do to it, the better they 
are able to survive." 

Nature Guide to the Carolina 
Coast, written by Peter Meyer, and 
Seacoast Life: An Ecological Guide 
To Natural Seashore Communities In 
North Carolina, written by Judith 
Spitsbergen, were helpful sources for 
this article. □ 


Awakening Somerset: 
The Story Beyond the Big House 

Josiah Collins III built his 14-room mansion at Somerset in 1830. 

By Carla B. Burgess 

A "false" door produced what de- 
signers call symmetry of architecture 
inside the antebellum home of planter 
Josiah Collins III. But it took a descen- 
dant of one of the Collins family's 353 
slaves to restore balance to the story of 
Somerset Place. 

It's easy enough for visitors to find 
this coastal North Carolina plantation, 
which once completely encircled the 

16,600-acre Lake Phelps. From U.S. 
64, the brown historical signs lead tour- 
ists through the sleepy town of 
Creswell, past fields of corn and beans 
sprinkled with shocks of wild mustard, 
across the Scuppernong River, onto 
Spruill and 30-Foot Canal roads and 
almost to Pettigrew State Park. 

But Dorothy Redford — a seventh 
generation descendant of the first slaves 
to toil this plantation — had to find her 

homeplace the hard way, by a painstak- 
ing 10-year pilgrimage through thick 
volumes of federal censuses, courthouse 
records and deeds, old newspapers and 
hours of oral history gathering. 

Her search led this former Ports- 
mouth, Va., social worker in 1985 to the 
steps of the "Big House" on the Collins' 
plantation, where a teenage guide gave 
her a tour of the home that included 
scant mention of African-Americans. 

10 JULY/AUGUST 1993 

The young woman alluded only twice 
to Somerset blacks — once to the 
slaves who dug the 6-mile canal con- 
necting Lake Phelps to the Scupper- 
nong River and once to "hired girls" 
who kept the house, a sanitized refer- 
ence to the enslaved people that were 
the lifeblood of this 
once 100,000-acre 

Redford recalls 
the tour of the 14- 
room mansion, built 
in 1830, as unre- 
markable, and the 
state of the visitors' 
center, lamentable. 
Buzzing flies and 
two drab pictures of 
Collins and his wife 
kept vigil in the 
dusty visitors' cen- 
ter. Known as the 
Colony House, this 
two-story building 
provided overnight 
lodging when 
Somerset was still 
an absentee-owner 
farm in the late 
1700s. The outbuildings such as the 
kitchen and smokehouse were mere 
storage bins. Trees and tangled under- 
growth obscured the lake. And in a 
clearing west of the mansion, one 
lonely wooden sign commemorated 
26 disappeared slave cabins. 

Almost a decade later, Somerset 
is in a striking metamorphosis. 

It began with the culmination of 
Redford' s genealogy, which not only 
included her own direct maternal line, 
but 20 other families that made up 
Somerset's slave community. She 
celebrated in grand style, with a 
homecoming of slave descendants — 
as well as Collins heirs — at the site 
in September 1986. Redford, then- 

Gov. Jim Martin and 120 oak trees 
cinched with yellow ribbon wel- 
comed Alex Haley, national media 
and nearly 2,000 kinfolk from across 
the country to the commemoration of 
Somerset's roots. 

Redford was hired as program 

Scott D. Taylor 

Dorothy Redford watches 
Virginia fifth-graders dip candles. 

specialist the following year, and 
Somerset began to emerge from its 
cocoon. With the help of then-legisla- 
tor Howard B. Chapin, she cleared 
the growth from the lakeshore. The 
outbuildings — including the kitchen, 
laundry and salting house — were 
cleaned, furnished and opened to the 
public. Books binding both black and 
white histories, broomsedge brooms 
and colorful pottery are now sold in 
the adjoining room. Archaeologists 
are reclaiming the shards of 
Somerset's black history, and 

Redford soon hopes to break ground on 
rebuilding of the slave chapel, hospital, 
field hand kitchen and two cabins. 

"The entire way we look at 
Somerset Place has changed," says 
Redford. "Sometimes you were met on 
the porch, and it was said this was the 
home of Josiah 
Collins III, and then 
you were taken over 
for a tour of the 
house and furniture. 
... We no longer 
look at it as a plan- 
tation house, but we 
interpret the culture 
that lived here. 

"Ninety percent 
of the compliments 
we get is that we 
don't say servants; 
we say enslaved 
people or slaves, 
and we acknowl- 
edge what everyone 
did on the planta- 
tion. And we find 
no one is offended," 
she says. "Some- 
times when you 
start it's like a big relief because 
everybody's got millions of questions. 
And when you go to other sites and the 
's' word is never mentioned, you come 
with the questions and you leave with 
the questions. Here, because we're 
opening it up, people can ask." 

The room next to the gift shop is 
now an orientation room for visitors. 

"It has black faces, people who 
were born slaves hanging on the walls, 
so that the moment you begin your in- 
terpretation of the site, people under- 
stand that more than one population 
lived here," says Redford. "Now you 
see the work buildings, you see the salt- 
ing house, you see the smokehouse, ... 



kids go into the kitchen and prepare 

"I did really inexpensive things 
like put up areas with cast iron pots so 
that you understand that plantations 
were places of work; they were not 
places where only owners lived," she 

The site now 
offers a unique 
hands-on educa- 
tional program that 
is a national model. 
And Somerset 
Homecoming, writ- 
ten by Redford and 
Michael D'Orso, is 
not only a beautiful 
outline of Redford's 
search for her heri- 
tage, it is being used 
in classrooms to 
inspire others to 
explore their ances- 
try. At Somerset, 
school groups get 
an integrated lesson 
of slave history and 
go back in time to 
experience work 
1 8th-century style. 

"It's not role-playing, but it's as- 
suming a role 150 years ago, and each 
kid has to assume it," says Redford. 
"There's a difference in a child being 
able to watch someone and actually 
participating in the craft. The learning 
experience is entirely different when 
they come out of the kitchen sweating 
or come out with a bucket and 
they've got to haul the water. When 
they come out of that experience, they 
certainly understand the difference 
technology has made." 

On a muggy Wednesday morn- 
ing in May, a steady breeze off Lake 
Phelps rustles Somerset's sycamores 
and cypresses. Company's coming, 

and Redford and her staff are getting 
ready. Busloads of ninth-graders from 
Northeastern High School in Elizabeth 
City and fifth-graders from a Virginia 
private school are on the way. 

No slide projectors are warming 
up. No exhibits are being roped off. 

Scotl D. Taylor 

Broommakers work toward 
their daily quota. 

Instead, Fred Spear stokes the fire un- 
der a cast-iron pot in the yard. He 
drops bricks of paraffin in the kettle, 
and carefully drapes wicks one-by-one 
over a nearby railing. In the kitchen, 
seasoning for a pot of beans simmers 
in a pot hanging over the brick hearth. 
A wood fire crackles underneath. Out- 
side the laundry, empty chairs circle a 
big basket of raw cotton. 

At 10 a.m., the ninth-graders ar- 
rive. Redford greets them outside the 
Colony House with a basket filled 
with bits of colored paper. She in- 

structs each of them to take one be- 
fore stepping inside the visitors' 

"You have just traveled back in 
time to 1786, a time in which if you 
were thirsty you'd have water out of 
the well," she says, as the students 

pack into the ori- 
entation room. 
"And you 
wouldn't have a 
lot of choice 
about your daily 

She begins to 
tell the story of 
the plantation, 
which began as a 
business venture 
between three 
Edenton entrepre- 
neurs — Josiah 
Collins I, 
Nathaniel Allen 
and Samuel 
Dickinson. These 
men had a vision 
to develop a large 
rice plantation. 
Under a partnership called the Lake 
Company, the three bought 100,000 
acres of land, including Lake Phelps, 
through land grants. It probably cost 
them 10 pounds for each 1,000 acres, 
says Redford. 

"So you have two elements of a 
plantation: number one, land, and 
number two, a plan for development," 
she says. "What's the third element 
that characterized plantations in North 

Some of the students respond: 

"And what kind of labor force 
characterized plantations in North 
Carolina and in most of the South?" 
she asks. When no one responds, she 

12 JULY/AUGUST 1993 

adds, "Enslaved people. 

"Why do we say enslaved people 
as opposed to just the word slaves?" 
asks Redford. "Because they were 
people; in fact, they were enslaved Af- 

The first slave labor force at 
Somerset was 40 
slaves; they were 
artisans such as 
carpenters and 
brick masons. 
Collins brought the 
second group of 
slaves directly from 
the west coast of 
Africa in 1784. 
Redford talks about 
what these Africans 
offered to 
Somerset: experi- 
ence in growing 
their native okra, 
yams, watermel- 
ons, gourds, and — 
most importantly 
— rice. 

These slaves 
bore the brunt of 
the rice scheme. Caged as they worked, 
expelling dirt and mud through the 
bars, they labored two years through 
swamp and forest to dig a canal 6 miles 
long, 20 feet wide and 4 to 14 feet 
deep. Malaria, injuries and exhaustion 
claimed many lives. 

By 1816, Collins had bought out 
his partners, and by the time his grand- 
son, Josiah Collins HI, took over the 
plantation in 1830, Somerset was one 
of the largest farms in the Southeast. 
The rice paddies were converted back 
to fields for corn and wheat. Rice farm- 
ing, its intensive labor and its malaria- 
carrying mosquitoes took too great a 
human and financial toll. The canal 
emerged as an avenue of commerce for 

the grain that fed the plantation's grist- 
mill and the cypress planks that rolled 
through Somerset's sawmill. 

"Which gets to our focus today — 
technology," says Redford, smiling at 
the students still clutching their bits of 

Scotl D. Taylor 

An Elizabeth City high schooler 
tries Colonial cooking. 

"Two things you learn immedi- 
ately about the antebellum period; one 
is your lack of choice. If you were liv- 
ing here in 1786 you really wouldn't 
have any choice about what you were 
going to do," she says. "Another thing 
you're going to understand is every- 
thing came with a task and quantity to 
be completed. Since some people will 
be cooking and won't have time to be 
cotton pickers or broommakers or 
gourdmakers, you all are going to have 
to make enough so that everybody will 
have something to take home." 

Immediately, several of the stu- 
dents raise their hands asking, "May I 
be a cook?" 

Redford responds firmly: "Today, 
you will do whatever I tell you 
to do." 

Glancing around the room, she an- 
nounces that every- 
one holding yellow 
slips of paper will 
J I be a cotton picker. 

• The yellow people 
m j groan. 

"Blue will be 
broommakers, and 
you may be candle 
dippers, and you 
may have to help 
the cotton pickers," 
she says. 

The ninth-grad- 
ers disperse, while 
Redford helps suit 
up the cooks outside 
the Colony House. 
A.C. Robinson 
preens and bats his 
eyelashes as he dons 
a long skirt and 
apron. He and fel- 
low cook Trey Boyce begin hauling 
buckets of water to the kitchen for 
cooking and dishwashing. 

Betty Pledger, dressed in a long 
checked skirt and white bonnet, as- 
sembles her people, who begin picking 
the seeds and hulls from large tufts of 
cotton. Later she will help them stitch 
the picked cotton into pincushions. 

Spear directs the candlemakers, 
who repeatedly circle the cauldron, al- 
ternately dipping and drying their 

In the shade, Jerry Raveling shows 
his artisans how to peel the rough 
pieces from stalks of broomsedge and 
bind them together with fabric strips. 



In the kitchen and adjoining 
laundry, Darlene Davenport helps 
the cooks grind corn to make meal 
for cornbread. They also prepare 
hopping John — black-eyed peas 
with rice — and gingerbread. 

Meanwhile, the younger stu- 
dents from Norfolk 
Collegiate are at then- 
assigned tasks. 

Rebecca Repass 
watches her 10-year- 
old son David care- 
fully crack eggs into a 
bowl. She says his 
worst fear about the 
trip — that he'd be 
picked as a cook — 
has come true. But 
David works steadily 
as he pushes coals 
under the skillet full 
of sizzling corn bread. 
He's equally confi- 
dant during cleanup, 
skillfully pouring hot 
water into an enamel bowl and 
scrubbing the dishes clean with a 
well-worn piece of loofah. 

Seasoned chefs Trey and A.C. 
take a breather in the doorway of the 
adjoining laundry. 

"In the kitchen, you burn up," 
says A.C. "It showed you how they 
really did it, with no air conditioning, 
no drinks." 

Trey says it taught him respect 
for the women who cooked from 
sunup to sundown in heavy clothes. 
"It's very, very hot," he says, raising 
the hem above his ankles. "Wearing 
these skirts restricts your move- 

The high schoolers have been 
tracing their genealogy as a class 
project, some of them back as far as 
seven generations, says teacher 
Linda Hodnett. 

Akiysha Scales says Redford's 
work has been inspiring to her. In her 
past, she found the names of slave 
ancestors and her great-great grandfa- 
ther, a Blackfoot Indian who lived on 
a reservation. She also learned of a 
black ancestor who was an inventor; 

Scott D. Taylor 

A lone artisan 
husks broomsedge. 

he was hanged after he got a white 
woman pregnant. 

"I didn't know him, but still, if 
it's a part of you, it does hurt you," 
she says. 

Fellow broommaker Felicia 
Felton found white, black and Ameri- 
can Indian in her family tree. "It made 
me proud to know I had different cul- 
tures in my background," she says. 
Asked whether she was scared to 
poke into her past, she says, "I was 
ready for the good or the bad." 

Back at the cotton picking circle, 
the Norfolk fifth-graders are taking 
their turn with the spurs and seeds. 
"You get calluses on your finger after 
a while," says Redford, looking over 

the youngsters' shoulders. "Yeah, 
this is really making me a man," says 
10-year-old Matt Trogdon as he fidg- 
ets with his cotton pod. 

This sends Redford into a fit of 
laughter. Pledger smiles also; then the 
two women suggest that the kids hold 
on to their keep- 
sakes from today. 

"There might 
not even be a plan- 
tation around by the 
time you have 
says Pledger, a 
Creswell native 
who has worked at 
Somerset for three 

As the day 
winds down, the 
last bunch of fifth- 
graders hastily 
scrapes dried pith 
and seeds from 
gourds using oyster 
shells. After a quick tour through the 
house, the young artisans will soon 
be leaving with their wares. Resting 
for a spell in the kitchen, Pledger 
talks with wonder of the welcome 
awakening at Somerset. 

"This place was like Rip van 
Winkle; that's the only way I can de- 
scribe it," she says. "Ms. Redford, 
she has done wonders since she came 
here. She is giving them something 
they will pass on to their children and 
their grandchildren, and they'll have 
something to pass on to another gen- 

"I was here before Somerset was 
what Somerset is today," she says. 
"When I was a kid it was an old 
abandoned house. It was fun to run 
all through it because it was big. 

"It's time to put that to rest," she 
says. "I'm kind of excited about it." 

14 JULY/AUGUST 1993 

History Whole 

The pendulum swings heavy and 
hard. After the first homecoming of 
slave descendants in 1986, some 
whites felt alienated from Somerset 
Place. But Dot Redford 
had a tonic. 

Take a healthy 
dose of Christmas 
cheer, simmer up 8 
pounds of beans, throw 
in hoards of homemade 
cookies, smother it in 
song, and you've got 
some fine community 

It's called the 
Christmas Open House, 
and it happens every 
year at Somerset. Every 
church in the area is 
invited to decorate one 
room of the Collins 
House to honor a 
church member, living or dead. And 
in the process, people mingle. They 
sing together. They laugh, they eat 
and they eat some more. 

"Our house is decorated to 
pieces," says Redford. 

Pine and holly wreaths are 
sprinkled with pods of cotton. Dried 

okra, gourds and other natural decora- 
tions adorn the 14-room house. 

"All the church choirs come to- 
gether and sing together," says 

Scon D. Taylor 

Trey Boyce and A.C. Robinson fetch 
water for cooking and dishwashing. 

Somerset employee and Creswell na- 
tive Betty Pledger. "It's not white 
churches. It's not black churches. It's 
both. You'd think they had been prac- 

ticing and singing together for years. 

"There's a nip in the air. They 
have hot apple cider," she says. "Ev- 
ery church has to bring homemade 

cookies — you cannot 
bring them in cello- 
phane. We cook a big 
pot of beans, and that 
is sopped out by the 
end of the day." 

And when Open 
House is over, there 
are a dozen or more 
stories to weave into 
the history of this 
coastal county. Each 
church puts together a 
short biography of its 
honoree. The write- 
ups are published each 
year as Reflections: A 
Somerset Christmas. 
"I'm an advocate of 
seeing history whole," says Redford. 

And no one wants to miss out on 
the celebration. 

"A lot of people say, 'I'm going 
to go because that's my mother being 
honored," says Pledger. "It just 
brings so many people from far and 
away." E 


The 1993 Somerset Place Home- 
coming will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on 
Saturday, Sept. 4. The theme of the 
program and activities is "Our Chil- 

Entertainment will include the 
Somerset Children's Choir and the 
Marie Brooks Dance Theatre, an 
international troupe from New York 
specializing in African and Carib- 
bean dance. Both groups range in 

age from 3 to 18. 

Storytellers Lloyd Wilson and 
Gloria Lowery Tyrrell will tell tales. 
Children will make broomsedge 
brooms, small kitchen baskets, split 
oak baskets and pincushions. Group 
photographs of descendants are 
scheduled throughout the day. An 
hour of open mike sharing for people 
more than 80 years old is also slated. 
And of course there'll be games and 
lots of food. 

For information about local 
lodging and activities, call 919/797- 

Somerset Place Visiting Hours 

April 1 — Oct. 31 : Monday 
through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 
Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Nov. 1 — March 31: Closed on 
Monday. Tuesday through Saturday, 
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 
4 p.m. 




for the 

Each summer, 
thousands of people 
enjoy the unique blend 
of sand, surf and sun 
that is distinctive 
to the oceanfront 
and bountiful along 
the North Carolina shore. 
But in all of that 
wonder and beauty, 
there is also danger 
on the beach 
and in the water. 

16 JULY/ AUGUST 1993 

By Kathy Hart 
The ocean. 

It's irresistible. It attracts people 
like a powerful magnet. 

They are drawn to its sun-washed 
shores, revitalized by its beauty, its 
warmth, its endless rhythm and its 
cleansing brine. 

Each summer, thousands of people 
enjoy the unique blend of sand, surf 
and sun that is distinctive to the ocean- 
front and bountiful along the North 
Carolina shore. 

But in all of that wonder 
and beauty, there is also dan- 
ger on the beach and in the 

Tobie Dodge, a supervi- 
sor for Nags Head Ocean 
Rescue, has spent 10 years 
on the beach protecting the 
lives of others. As a public 
safety professional, Dodge 
says that a lack of under- 
standing of ocean dynamics 
poses the biggest problem for 
the average beachgoer. 

"They underestimate 
natural forces such as winds, 
waves, currents and weather, 
and they overestimate their 
own abilities in the water," Dodge says. 
"They don't understand that a 
longshore current can quickly pull a 
swimmer down the beach or that an 
offshore wind can carry a person on a 
float down and out 100 to 200 yards in 

Mirek Dabrowski, a lifeguard for 
13 years along the Outer Banks, puts it 
like this: "One of the biggest dangers is 
that people don't foresee what might 
happen. This doesn't mean that the 
ocean is a big monster out to get you, 
but you can't take it for granted." 

Dodge and Dabrowski agree that 
people should develop a healthy re- 
spect for the ocean and its fickle nature. 

"It's changing every minute," 
Dodge says. 

As a system in motion, ocean 
waves, currents and sands respond to 
changes in tides and weather. 

Tides creep in and out continu- 
ously, and as they do the profile of the 
beach and nearshore changes too. The 
gently sloping beach at low tide may 
give way to a steeper beach with a faster 
drop-off at high tide. 

And an approaching storm can alter 
the serenity of a calm day faster than 

Steve Murray 

most people can spell Chicamacomico, 
the lifesaving station near Rodanthe. 
Gentle waves, light winds and sluggish 
currents can be whipped into a frenzy of 
churning breakers, powerful gusts and 
strong currents. 

But most people, especially tourists 
who spend only one to two weeks a 
year seaside, aren't aware of the ocean's 
power or overestimate their ability to 
handle it. 

Most folks hone their swimming 
skills in swimming pools and inland 
lakes and are often unprepared for cur- 
rents, backwash, crashing waves and 
shifting sand. 

"Most people don't know their 

limitations when it comes to the ocean," 
Dabrowski says. "They don't know how 
to handle waves that can throw them 
into the sand hard enough to cause head 
and neck injuries or how to recognize 

"That's a lifeguard's biggest job — 
educating people about the problems 
they might face," he says. "People 
should look at us as doctors of the 
ocean. We know the ocean. We know 
where you can swim and where you 
can't. People should listen to what we 
have to say." 

But vacationers aren't 
always good listeners. Bent 
on making their vacation all 
it can be, visitors often 
overexert themselves and 
take unreasonable chances 
with their lives in the name 
of a good time, Dabrowski 

Vacationers will begin 
exercising after weeks or 
even years of inactivity with- 
out a doctor's approval. They 
soak up too much sun or be- 
come too hot and dehy- 
drated. They swim on days 
when the ocean is too rough 
or rip currents are rampant. 

The result of such foolhardiness 
can mean rescue, resuscitation or, in 
extreme cases, death. So public safety 
professionals urge vacationers to em- 
ploy restraint and use common sense 
on the beach. 

Safety tips include: 

1. Come to the beach prepared. 
Bring sunscreen, hats and protective 
clothing, especially for children. Wear 
footwear — sandals, loafers, tennis 
shoes or flip-flops — because sand tem- 
peratures near the base of the dunes can 
reach 1 10 F to 120 F. Bring fluids to 



drink to prevent dehydration and sun- 
glasses to cut down on glare from the 
water and sand. If older adults and chil- 
dren are among your beach party, bring 
a beach umbrella to offer respite from 
the sun. 

2. Choose a beach that has a life- 
guard or is monitored by a beach patrol. 
"I always swim where there's a life- 
guard," Dabrowski says. "If I was 
someone who didn't know much about 
the beach, I would sure swim near 
someone who did know 

something about it." 

3. As soon as you ar- 
rive on the beach, check with 
the lifeguard about ocean 
conditions. Ask about the 
location and strength of the 
backwash, rip currents and 
longshore currents; the possi- 
bility of submerged hazards 
such as groins, loose pilings 
or old fishing piers; the 
prevalence of jellyfish and 
stingrays; and the depth of 
the nearshore waters. For example, ask 
how fast the beach drops off beneath 
the breakers and whether there are any 
nearshore holes or gullies. 

4. Heed what the lifeguard says or 
any warnings posted. When rip currents 
are frequent, Dare County officials 
warn swimmers against swimming in 
nearshore waters, says H.B. Sanderson, 
director of Dare County Public Safety. 
They announce the warnings through 
local media and by posting red flags. 
The town of Nags Head prohibits swim- 
ming when the red flags are flying, and 
violators are ticketed. 

5. Don't overdo. Don't run a 
beach marathon during the heat of the 
day unless you are conditioned for it. 
Don't soak up too much sun. If you feel 
compelled to tan despite dermatolo- 

gists' warnings, do so gradually by us- 
ing sunscreens. Don't drink too much 
alcohol. It can impair your judgment, 
causing you to attempt feats beyond 
your ability. 

6. If you are bringing children to 
the beach, "always, ALWAYS watch 
them," Dodge says. He cautions that 
parents should keep small children 
within arm's reach when they are play- 
ing in the surf. "It's so easy for children 
to step out over their heads and into 

Scott D. Taxi, 

trouble," Dodge says. 

As a further precaution, Dabrowski 
advises parents to outfit their kiddies 
with U.S. Coast Guard-approved per- 
sonal flotation devices — life jackets — 
when they are in the surf. If properly 
fitted on the child, the life jacket should 
buoy the child's head and shoulders out 
of the water. But beware of the light- 
weight, air-inflated floats and water 
wings. Children develop a false sense of 
security with these floats, which can be 
easily punctured. 

7. Beware of other people on the 
beach and their activities. During peak 
summer vacation months, beaches and 
nearshore waters swarm with people 
who are sunning, swimming, fishing, 
surfing, sailing and riding jet skis and 
tandems. These activities are not always 

compatible, Dodge says. Be like the 
defensive driver. Watch what you are 
doing and what others are doing too. 

Sanderson says the growing use of 
personal watercraft — jet skis and tan- 
dems — and the danger they pose to 
swimmers has caused some munici- 
palities to limit or prohibit their use. 
Although the craft are not a problem 
along the Dare County beaches yet, 
Sanderson predicts that municipalities 
will begin regulating their use within 
the next few years. 

Despite precautions, 
accidents happen, and 
that's why it is best to 
choose a beach monitored 
by a lifeguard. 

Contrary to the Holly- 
wood image of the life- 
guard as an empty-headed, 
muscle-bound he-man 
more intent on watching 
women than beachgoers, 
lifeguards are smart, well- 
trained and physically 
adept men and women 
dedicated to beach safety, Sanderson 

Before becoming lifesavers, Dare 
County guards must complete a Red 
Cross Lifesaving course, be currently 
certified in cardiac pulmonary resusci- 
tation (CPR) and pass a physical agil- 
ity training test, Sanderson says. Un- 
like lifeguards at swimming pools, 
ocean guards must be able to run and 
swim long distances, in other words, 
be in top physical shape. 

"It's not an easy job," he says. 
"Guards work 10-hour days. One hour 
every morning is spent in ongoing 
training; then they're in the sun an- 
other nine hours. 

"They're exposed to the sun's 
damaging rays, and now they have 
potential for coming in contact with 
HIV (the AIDS virus). They can't 

18 JULY/AUGUST 1993 

wear a mask or gloves in the water" to 
protect themselves from the deadly 
AIDS virus like land-bound rescue 

And lifeguards must have one 
other attribute: eagle eyes. They must 
always have one eye focused on 
people in the water and the other on 
people on the beach. 

What clues a guard that a person 
is in trouble? 

"They'll have big eyes because 
they're panicked," Sanderson says. 
"You'll also notice the pan- 
icked look on their face. 
Their head will be back, their 
feet under them and their 
arms flailing around. They 
look like someone trying to 
climb a ladder." 

In addition to the flail- 
ing, screaming person, 
Dabrowski also looks for the 
"silent victim." These are 
people who have become 
exhausted and given up. 

"I look for someone who 
is floating and continues to float, often 
with his head in the water," 
Dabrowski says. "If a person is wav- 
ing his hands and arms, he's in better 
shape because his shoulders are still 
above water. He has some energy 

Drowning is really hypoxia — 
lack of oxygen in the body, particu- 
larly the lungs and brain. Dr. Mary 
Eberst, assistant professor of emer- 
gency medicine at the University of 
North Carolina, describes two kinds of 

For some victims, drowning oc- 
curs when the larynx clamps shut be- 
cause of the irritation of the water be- 
ing drawn into the upper part of the 
airway. This is called dry drowning, 
and it cuts off oxygen to the lungs, 
says Eberst. 

In other victims, the lungs fill 
with water, cutting off air supply to 
the blood and the brain. This is called 
wet drowning. Eberst says 80 percent 
to 90 percent of the people who drown 
are wet-drowning victims. 

If you are conscious after a res- 
cue, Eberst says your chances for sur- 
vival are very good, although you may 
suffer some lung injury. If you're un- 
conscious, chances of survival drop 
significantly, and those who do sur- 
vive often suffer neurological damage. 

Michael Halminski 

Eberst says lifeguards or rescue 
personnel have three to five minutes to 
get victims out of the water and 
breathing. After that, victims suffer 
irreversible brain damage or death. 

Most drowning victims are either 
very young or old, Eberst says. And, 
she adds, alcohol is often a factor for 
victims who don't fall into the young 
or old categories. 

In North Carolina, beach drown- 
ing statistics supplied by the N.C. 
Medical Examiners Office in Chapel 
Hill reveal the following patterns: 
eight drownings in 1987, 18 in 1988, 
17 in 1989, 19 in 1990 and 29 in 1991. 
In this five-year period, 17 of 91, or 
19 percent of the victims, had blood 
alcohol levels that would classify 
them as legally intoxicated. 

To lessen your chances of becom- 

ing a drowning or near-drowning victim, 
remember these tips, Dabrowski says. 
Never swim alone. 
If you get in trouble, don't panic. A 
panicked person quickly expends valu- 
able energy that could be used to save 
his or her life. 

To conserve energy if you're in 
trouble, float. The salt water will buoy 
your body upward. Use that buoyancy to 
keep your head above water so that you 
can shout for help. 

Learn to swim. If you can't swim, 
don't get in the water. 

Don't drink too much 
alcohol before swimming. 
Alcohol impairs your physi- 
cal abilities and clouds your 

And choose a beach with 
a lifeguard. 

In North Carolina, not all 
beaches are protected by life- 
guards. Some municipalities, 
wanting to offer tourists an 
amenity that could save their 
lives, provide or contract 
with an agency to provide oceanfront 
rescuers. Others can't afford the service. 
To compensate, some resort areas, con- 
dominium complexes and hotels employ 
their own guards. 

Liability factors into the decision 
for some municipalities when they're 
deciding whether to fund a rescue ser- 

"Some city and town governments 
believe if they don't do anything there 
will be no liability for them if an acci- 
dent occurs," Sanderson says. 

But Dare County takes the opposite 

"We're a tourist-oriented recre- 
ational area and as responsible tenants 
for that beach, we feel we have to pro- 
vide responsible lifesaving services," 
Sanderson says. □ 




Before entering the surf, watch the 
waves. Waves usually break in sets, 
with a lull between. If the waves seem 
too large and powerful, do not go into 
the water. 

Waves pack a punch. They can 
easily drag you across the sand, skin- 
ning your body and perhaps even 
breaking bones. 

When swimming through the 
breakers, swim over rounded waves 
and dive under cresting waves. Always 
watch and ready yourself for the next 

If you get caught in a wave, don't 
struggle. Relax, curl up and wait until 
the wave passes or pushes you on the 


BACKWASH— This is the return 
flow of water from a wave that is often 
mistakenly called the undertow. "There 
is no such thing as undertow," says 
Nags Head lifeguard Tobie Dodge, who 
explains that backwash can only be felt 
along the bottom and may knock you 
off your feet. It may pull you seaward, 
but it doesn't suck you under, he says. 

The speed and strength of this cur- 
rent depend on the speed and strength 
of the waves and upon the steepness of 
the beach. The backwash will last only 
until the next wave breaks. 

If caught in a backwash, don't 
panic. Simply brace your feet on the 
bottom, maintain your balance and wait 
until the pull slackens. If the backwash 
knocks you off your feet, float on the 
surface and swim shoreward with the 
next wave. 

This current runs parallel to the beach 
and is formed by waves striking the 
beach at an angle. Mark your towel or a 
landmark on the beach, and watch for 
drifting, especially if you have children 
in the water. 

In the water, be aware of your 
movement in the current. Do not try to 
swim against a strong longshore cur- 
rent. Simply swim or float to shore and 
walk back to your towel. 

RIP CURRENTS — Under cer- 
tain conditions, rip currents can be the 
most dangerous natural hazard on the 
beach. They are associated with many 
of the rescues that occur each summer 
and with more than a few drowning 

These currents are formed when 
waves break on the nearshore sandbar, 
says Spencer Rogers, Sea Grant's 
coastal engineer. Water falls into the 
trough between the beach and the bar 
and becomes trapped. As the water 
piles up, it begins seeking a path sea- 

ward, which it usually finds in a hole or 
break in the bar. The water flows 
quickly through the break in the bar, 
creating a fast-moving current that flows 
offshore 50 to 150 feet in Tar Heel wa- 
ters before dissipating. 

Rip currents are common and usu- 

ally sluggish. But they are killers when 
they become large and fast, too fast for 
the best swimmers. If caught in a rip 
current, do not swim against it. In North 
Carolina, the rips are usually narrow, 10 
to 20 feet. Swim across the rip current, 
parallel to the beach, until you're free of 
the current. Then swim shoreward. Or 
ride the rip out until it dissipates before 
swimming to the beach. 

Learn to identify rip currents. Signs 
that indicate their presence are: 1) water 
or sea foam moving through the break- 
ers and offshore, 2) differences in water 
color caused by the turbulence from the 
breaking waves, 3) waves breaking 
either closer to shore due to deeper 
waters in the sandbar break or farther 
offshore due to the currents, and 4) 
rougher or choppy water on both sides 
of the sandbar. 

Rip currents are usually worse at 
specific tide elevations, Rogers says. If 
rips were prevalent at low tide yester- 
day, it is likely the same conditions will 

20 JULY/AUGUST 1993 

be present today. But gradually sandbar 
and wave conditions change. Rip cur- 
rents may disappear or change location. 
And other weather conditions such as 
wind directions and approaching storms 
can affect the appearance of rips. 

Rip currents are most persistent 
around natural features such as the rock 
croppings at Fort Fisher or man-made 
features such as jetties, groins or piers. 

Sun Exposure 

SUNBURN— Avoid too much 
exposure to the sun. Heed dermatolo- 
gists' advice: wear sunscreen to protect 
your skin and avoid the possibility of 
skin cancer. Sunburn puts a damper on a 
fun vacation. 

Severely sunburned beachgoers can 
experience painful, red skin; blisters; 
fever; nausea; vomiting and headache. 
To combat these symptoms, stay out of 
the sun, use cool rags on the bum, take a 
pain reliever every four hours, drink flu- 
ids and seek medical assistance. 

Remember that you can be sun- 
burned any time of the day, in the shade 
or on cloudy days. 

longed exposure to the heat or sun with- 
out the proper intake of fluids can cause 
heat exhaustion, heat cramps or, even 

worse, heat stroke. These problems oc- 
cur when the body loses fluid through 
sweating and has difficulty releasing 
excess heat. 

Symptoms of heat exhaustion are 
perspiration, general weakness, pale 
and clammy skin, nausea and dizziness. 
Heat cramps, which occur in the abdo- 
men or calves, are usually associated 
with heat exhaustion. 

To treat heat exhaustion and 
cramps: lie down and raise the legs a 
foot above the head; loosen clothing; 
apply cool, wet cloths; rest in an air- 
conditioned room and slowly drink liq- 
uids, such as Gatorade, which restore 
important electrolytes and salts, every 
15 minutes. If vomiting occurs, discon- 
tinue fluids and seek a doctor. 

The symptoms for heat stroke, a 
life-threatening emergency, include 
rapid pulse, very high temperature (104 
F to 106 F) and hot, dry skin. To treat 
heat stroke, immediately cool the vic- 
tim by immersing in or sponging with 
ice water. The victim will become un- 
conscious if his or her internal body 
temperature exceeds 104 F. Seek medi- 
cal assistance immediately if heat 
stroke is suspected. Death will occur if 
the victim is not treated. 

IVIarine Life 

Marine life teems along Tar Heel 
beaches, but luckily most of the crea- 
tures who call North Carolina home 
pose no danger for the beachgoer. Only 
a few creatures can be considered dan- 

STINGRAYS — These graceful 
creatures sometimes lie partially buried 
along sound beaches and sand flats 
near inlets. Although stingrays are gen- 
erally timid, they will respond if 
stepped on by lashing out with their 
poisonous barbed tail. If a ray attacks, 
you may suffer muscular aches and 

pains with possible paralysis, diar- 
rhea, vomiting and possibly shock. 

Dodge recommends that stingray 
victims seek medical help because 
often the barb must be removed. To 
avoid this creature's barb, do the stin- 
gray shuffle — shuffle your feet 
along the bottom instead of picking 
them up and setting them down. 

JELLYFISH — Numerous vari- 
eties of jellyfish in an assortment of 
sizes, shapes and translucent colors 
float in Tar Heel nearshore waters, 
but only some have stinging ten- 
tacles. Although the sting of a jelly- 
fish is painful, it usually subsides 
quickly after treatment with rubbing 
alcohol or meat tenderizer. The Por- 
tuguese man-of-war, a purplish jelly- 
fishlike creature that floats at the 
water's surface, packs more punch 
with its venomous tentacles, which 
can extend 50 feet from its body. The 
tentacles can even release their 
venom after the man-of-war has died 
and washed up on the beach. Stay 
well away from these creatures, and 
seek a doctor if stung. □ 


r o m sound to sea 

Homegrown Critters 

Familiarity can breed indiffer- 

After all, the creatures of the 
North Carolina coast are just garden- 
variety fish, crabs and oysters. The 
really interesting animals live in the 
deep, dark reaches of the ocean. 

Wrong. More than likely, there 
are a few things about our home- 
grown beach creatures that you never 
knew. Here's a sampling. 

• The male sea horse — not the 
female — incubates the eggs of their 
offspring in his brood pouch. The fe- 
male passes her eggs to the male, who 
fertilizes them in his pouch. Then, the 
lining of the pouch thickens with folds 
charged with blood vessels that carry 
oxygen and food to the developing 
embryos. In three weeks, the male ex- 
pels the fully formed young by flexing 
his body. 

• Before much was known 
about starfish, irate watermen may 
have unwittingly increased their popu- 
lations. Starfish entangled in their nets 
were cut up and thrown back to sea. 
What the fishermen didn't know was 
that starfish can grow new arms. And 
in some species, one arm can regener- 
ate an entire animal. 

• Bird feathers are made of kera- 
tin, the same substance of human nails 
and reptile scales. 

• The snowy and great egrets 
were hunted to near-extinction in the 
late 1 800s, when their feathers were in 
great demand as decorations on 
women's hats. The same trend nearly 
decimated the least tern, which was 
used whole to trim fashionable hats. 
Laws were eventually passed to pro- 
tect these birds. 

• Ospreys normally mate for 
life, returning each year to the same 
nest and adding branches. The nest 

grows over the years, sometimes 
reaching 1,000 to 1,500 pounds. 

• The appendages of the horse- 
shoe crab have unusual functions. It 
uses its spiked tail as a lever if turned 
on its back. Its legs provide locomo- 
tion and grind food, much like teeth. 
The food is then passed backward 
through its legs into the mouth. As a 
result, the horseshoe crab is unable to 
eat except when walking. 

• Crustaceans are able to es- 
cape a predator by breaking off one 
or more legs at a specific joint spe- 
cially adapted not to bleed. A crab, 
for instance, can break off its own 
leg to flee; or a predator can snap the 
leg. A crab regrows the lost limb at 
later molts. 

• The ghost crab is apparently 
in the midst of an evolutionary 
change from a past existence as a sea 
animal to a future as a dry-land ani- 
mal. Every day, it must return to the 
ocean shallows from its home in the 
upper beach zone to wet its gills. 

• Every autumn, the spiny lob- 
ster exhibits an unusual migration 
into deeper waters. In groups as large 

as 60, it walks along the ocean bottom 
in single file, maintaining contact 
with only antennae. It travels up to 30 
miles over several days for reasons 

• The loggerhead turtle is tem- 
perature-sex-dependent (TSD), since 
it has no X or Y chromosome to de- 
termine sex. Instead, the sex ratio of a 
loggerhead nest is determined by the 
temperature of the sand at incubation. 
Under laboratory conditions, as incu- 
bation temperatures exceed 84.5 F, 
more females are produced. As tem- 
peratures cool, more male hatchlings 

• The oyster changes sex repeat- 
edly during its life. The grouper starts 
life as a female and later becomes a 

• Find a shell riddled with hun- 
dreds of tiny holes? It was likely the 
victim of a boring sponge or marine 
worms. Orange-colored sponges at- 
tach to a shell and secrete an acid sub- 
stance that eats through the shell. Ma- 
rine worms bore tunnels into the shell. 

• The sea cucumber has the 
unique ability to throw out its entire 
insides to deter an enemy. It can soon 
grow a new set of internal organs. 
The sea cucumber is a hollow sack 
with a mouth bordered by 10 branch- 
ing tentacles. When the animal is 
feeding, the tentacles are extended. 
When danger threatens, it first tries to 
discourage a predator by contracting 
its body and puckering up its mouth, 
retracting the tentacles. 

These facts were adapted from 
Nature Guide to the Carolina Coast, 
written by Peter Meyer, and Seacoast 
Life: An Ecological Guide to Natural 
Seashore Communities in North 
Carolina, written by Judith 

Jeannie Faris 

22 JULY/AUGUST 1993 

& f t deck 

Big Sweep 
Sweeps Again 

If it's September, it must be time 
for Big Sweep. 

The First Citizens Bank Big 
Sweep, the nation's largest statewide 
waterway litter cleanup, will be held 
Saturday, Sept. 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 
p.m. at more than 300 shoreside sites 
from the mountains to the sea. 

The cleanup, now in its seventh 
year, strives to rid waterways of litter 
that can kill and maim wildlife, injure 
people, ruin boat motors and render our 
natural vistas unsightly. 

Litter pickup sites are located in 
almost every Tar Heel county; so vol- 
unteers can choose a waterway close to 
home or a beach, river or lake close to 
their heart. 

To locate cleanup sites, call the 
MCI toll-free hotline at 1-800-27- 
SWEEP between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. 
Monday through Friday. Volunteer op- 
erators will be standing by to help call- 
ers choose a location or direct them to 
county coordinators. 

Or stop by a branch of First Citi- 
zens Bank in late August to pick up a 
brochure describing the event and list- 
ing Big Sweep locations. 

Big Sweep Executive Director 
Susan Bartholomew encourages indi- 
viduals, families and groups — civic 
clubs, school classes, Scout troops, 
church groups and 4-H clubs — to join 
the cleanup effort. Collecting litter pro- 
vides an education in stewardship of 
natural resources and a lesson in litter 

Participants also receive an edu- 
cation in data collection. Besides bag- 
ging litter, volunteers record their 
trashy finds on data cards. Later the 
information is compiled and used by 
Big Sweep coordinators to pinpoint 
trends and determine the sources of 
aquatic debris. 

"I can almost guarantee that any- 
one who attends Big Sweep and fills 
bag after bag with nasty trash will 
never toss a piece of litter overboard or 
drop it shoreside again," says 
Bartholomew. "Four hours of picking 
up litter will make you disgusted with 
other people, but it can also make you 
feel good about yourself for doing 
something positive to clean up the envi- 

Last year, about 12,500 volunteers 
bagged 256 tons of debris from state 
waterways. Trash collectors amassed 
tons of tires, piles of plastic bottles, 
mounds of metal cans and gallons of 

To further support this environ- 
mental effort, buy a Big Sweep T-shirt 
conveying the message: "I've Had It 
Up To Here With Water Pollution." 
This year's shirt sports a gray back- 
ground with an array of inland and 
coastal water critters in colorful tones 
of blue, teal and magenta. 

T-shirts, available in medium and 
extra-large sizes, cost $12, which in- 
cludes postage. They can be purchased 
from Big Sweep, P.O. Box 550, Ra- 
leigh, NC 27602. Make checks or 
money orders payable to Big Sweep. 
All the money collected from T-shirt 
sales aids educational efforts. 

One educational project aimed at 
boaters and fishermen will keep litter 
from washing ashore. Big Sweep just 
produced a nylon mesh boat litterbag 
imprinted with the message: "Don't 
Splash Your Trash." 

The 12-by-23 inch drawstring 
bags are being given to boaters and 
fishermen at fishing tournaments, mari- 
nas, boating safety classes and N.C. 
Wildlife Resources Commission 
CATCH clinics. Carolina Power & 
Light, Duke Power and Tennessee Val- 
ley Authority, the sponsors of the bags, 
will also be helping to distribute them 

at their company-owned lakes. 

If you would like a bag, please 
write Big Sweep at the address above, 
and enclose $1 .50 to cover mailing 

Big Sweep is led by a board of di- 
rectors representing Sea Grant; First 
Citizens Bank; Carolinas Glass Recy- 
cling Program; Carolina Power & Light; 
Duke Power; Keep North Carolina 
Clean and Beautiful; Keep Wayne 
County Beautiful; N.C. 4-H; N.C. De- 
partment of Environment, Health and 
Natural Resources; N.C. Division of 
Coastal Management; N.C. Division of 
Parks and Recreation; N.C. Wildlife Re- 
sources Commission; Rowan County 
Parks and Recreation; R.J. Reynolds To- 
bacco Co.; Wake County Keep America 
Beautiful; and WGHPiedmont 8. 

Posters Foster Water 

Connecticut Sea Grant has two 
new colorful posters about water pollu- 
tion that are ideal for educators. 

The smaller 11 -by- 18 1/2 inch 
poster, How Bays and Estuaries are Pol- 
luted, uses four-color graphics from U.S. 
News and World Report to describe how 
factories, farms and residential areas 
contribute to coastal contamination. 

The larger 18-by-24 inch poster, 
Environmental Stewardship, was pro- 
duced to educate people about the link 
between their everyday activities and 
water pollution. It describes the water 
cycle, watersheds, runoff and proper dis- 
posal of hazardous wastes. The poster 
also provides a clean water shopping 
guide and tips about how homeowners 
can help improve water quality. 

To receive single copies of these 
free posters, write Connecticut Sea 
Grant, University of Connecticut, 1084 
Shennecossett Road, Groton, CT 06340- 


back talk 

Readers Have 
Their Say 

Below are the results of our 
Coastwatch reader survey. We mailed 
surveys to about 1,100 subscribers — 
every third person on our zip-sorted 
mailing list. We received 537 com- 
pleted surveys back in our office, 
which constitutes an excellent response 
rate of almost 50 percent. Thanks to all 
of you who took the time to complete 
the survey and send it back. Your 
comments and suggestions will be 
helpful as we plan for next year. 

Here's what you had to say. 
Reader comments are preceded by this 
symbol: 0, and editor's comments 
appear in italic. 

How many people read your Coastwatch? 

One (18%) 

Two (43%) 

Three (14%) 

Four (11%) 

Five or more (13%) 

Based on this information, we know that 2.55 
people read each copy of Coastwatch mailed 
for a readership of about 8,500. 

How long have you subscribed to 

Coastwatch 1 ! 

Three or more years (68%) 
One to three years (25%) 
Less than one year (7%) 

How often do you read the following 
sections of Coastwatch! 

Always Usually Sometimes Never 

From the Top/Editor's Letter 

(57%) (31%) (8%) (1%) 

Young Mariners/Children's Page 

(34%) (24%) (27%) (17%) 

From Sound to Sea/Nature Page 

(61%) (28%) (11%) (2%) 

Marine Advice/Extension Page 

(61%) (30%) (11%) (2%) 

Field Notes/Science Page 

(63%) (31%) (8%) (1%) 

Aft Deck/News Briefs and Updates 

(60%) (31%) (6%) (1%) 

Back Talk/Letters from Readers 

(53%) (25%) (20%) (3%) 

The Bookstore 

(40%) (29%) (23%) (6%) 
It is read from front cover to back cover. 

What type of stories do you find most 
interesting or useful? (Check all that 

Stories about coastal history (83%) 
Stories about coastal resources (76%) 
Stories about coastal controversies (70%) 
Stories about specific places (68%) 
Science stories (59%) 
People profiles (54%) 

Which of the following best describe 
Coastwatch' s presentation of information? 

Fair and accurate (54%) 
Easy to read (45%) 
Outstanding (31%) 
Informative (19%) 
Too environmental (3%) 
Too simple (2%) 
Biased (1%) 
Too technical (1%) 
Too sentimental (1%) 
Other (1%) 

Good language — carefully documented 

While not biased, a bit too tolerant of those 
who feel God and the coastal waters owe 
them a livelihood from fish/shellfish in the 

You can't have it all, but with your 

newsletters and publications you have it all. 
Not environmental enough. This is not a 
criticism. I just don't think a responsible 
publication about natural/cultural/historical 
resources can be "too environmental." 
Writing is journalistic, not professional. 
That's the style we strive to achieve. All the 
staff members and free-lance writers are 
trained, professional journalists. We believe 
journalists do the best job of translating 
difficult technical or scientific information into 
layman's terms. 

Are the length of the Coastwatch feature 

About right? (93%) 
Too short? (5%) 
Too long? (3%) 

Which of the following best describes 
Coastwatch' s visual presentation? (Check 
all that apply.) 

Attractive (78%) 
Typeface easy to read (28%) 
Not enough photographs (16%) 
Not enough color (7%) 
Other (3%) 
Too flashy (2%) 
Typeface hard to read (1%) 
Too much copy (1%) 

Too conservative (1%) 

Too many photos (1%) 

New version great! 

Good balance of photos and copy. New 

format is an improvement. 
Forget color. Use money to increase pages. 
Use more photos if possible. 
Very interesting photos that go well with 


New magazine is too costly. Same informa- 
tion could be given cheaper. The old 
newsletter was adequate. Don't need color, 
pictures, history, etc. 

1 look forward to every issue. The cover is 
very attractive. The insides should be too. 
Photos are good, but they should be in color. 

Excellent photos; interesting design and 

How useful to you is Coastwatch 1 ! 
Moderately useful (42%) 
Very useful (39%) 
Marginally useful (11%) 
Not useful (2%) 

Since I don't live at the coast, I read 
Coastwatch mainly for my own enjoyment. 

Covers information not otherwise available 
to me. 

1 use it in my educational curriculum. 
Especially when explaining coastal 

phenomena, i.e. northeasters, how to judge 

wind speed by ocean foam, etc. 
As an oceanography teacher, Coastwatch is 

my current events literature. 
We enjoy the magazine immensely and look 

forward to reading it. 

How do you find the cost of Coastwatch"! 
Just right (91%) 
Too high (9%) 
Too low (4%) 

We didn't ask this question to justify a price 
increase. We plan to hold at the $12 price as 
long as we possibly can. Some of you indicated 
that you thought $6 or $8 would be a better 
price. We would like to charge a low price too. 
But we must cover our printing, design and 
mailing costs. The federal government has 
virtually level-funded the National Sea Grant 
College Program during the last 12 years. 
Consequently, UNC Sea Grant can no longer 
afford to subsidize the magazine beyond 
paying the salaries of the staff. And we do not 
accept advertising to help defray costs. Why 
not? We don't want readers to think our 
writing is compromised by advertisers. 

24 JULY/AUGUST 1993 

As a result of reading Coastwatch, have 
you: (Check all that apply.) 

Increased your awareness of marine/coastal 

issues? (89%) 
Gained a greater awareness of Sea Grant 

efforts on behalf of the marine and 

coastal environment? (82%) 
Developed a better understanding or apprecia- 
tion of marine science? (69%) 
Become a better-informed voter on coastal 

issues? (55%) 
Ordered any Sea Grant publications? (53%) 
Subscribed to any of Sea Grant's other free 

newsletters? (25%) 
Used the information as supporting material in 

a classroom or other educational situation? 


Attended Big Sweep, the statewide waterway 
litter cleanup? (16%) 

Used the information to help your community 
or state better manage or use its coastal 
resources? (12 %) 

Called a Sea Grant agent or specialist? (9%) 

Used the information in your business to 
develop solutions or answers to marine- 
related problems? (8%) 

Attended a Sea Grant workshop? (7%) 

Rate the importance of the following uses of 
Coastwatch to you: 

Very Fairly Not 

Important Important Important Important 
Raises awareness of marine/coastal issues 
(63%) (28%) (3%) (2%) 
Educates about coastal/marine issues 
(60%) (31%) (3%) (3%) 
Is a source of regional coastal information 
(46%) (40%) (6%) (4%) 
Makes science understandable 
(25%) (40%) (19%) (11%) 
Presents latest coastal research 
(37%) (39%) (12%) (7%) 
Presents latest coastal extension activities 
(28%) (34%) (21%) (13%) 
Is a source of marine publications 
(28%) (32%) (18%) (9%) 

How long do you keep copies of 

Regularly save them (39%) 

Pass on to others (36%) 

Don't know, varies (12%) 

Discard after reading (8%) 

Save each issue until the next issue (6%) 

It depends. I still have issues about 
Ocracoke ponies, hurricanes, wetlands 
preservation. But if the issue is devoted to 
fish, commercial industries or real estate, it 
goes straight to the trash can. 

What do you like most/least about 



It is informative. Since receiving 
Coastwatch, we have become more 
enlightened about sea grasses, shells, etc. — 
things we took for granted when we visited 
the coastal region. 

Ease of reading for students — appropriate 
topics for use in the class. 

Variety of information — "one-stop 
shopping" for marine information. 

1 like it as it is — an improvement over the 
previous newsletter format. 

Sincere and scientific environmental concern 
for coastal areas regarding health, food, 
recreation and the future. 

1 am very glad Coastwatch is printed on 
recycled paper. 

Don't change it, PLEASE! 

The breadth and variety of good topics and 
the interesting writing style that conveys 
information and ideas with clarity and ease. 

Well-written — one of the hundreds of 
things that hit my desk that I actually read! 

From my grade school years, my parents and 
I have vacationed along the North Carolina 
coast, and I attended the University of North 
Carolina at Wilmington. I have always loved 
the coast, and Coastwatch is a continuing 
education. Keep up the outstanding work. 

Up-to-date information on an important area 
of our living (dying) planet that needs to be 
used in an intelligent way. 

1 think it is very well-balanced for a layman 
like myself. 


1 dislike Coastwatch coming in the mail in 
the middle of its two-month period. Most 
magazines come before the month printed on 
the magazine. 

We are trying to move our production schedule 

forward. Please bear with us. 

A bit "light" from scientific perspective. 
Tends to avoid controversial development 

Features too long. They are very well- 
written, but sometimes the length seems 
daunting when so little time is available for 

History, people profiles, fancy format. 
Coastwatch is not available on-line. 

Time between publications. 

1 think I liked it better when it was free — 
not because it was free, but it was more 
informative and less flashy. We will 
probably not renew this year. 

Liked old format better. Currently too much 

emphasis on commercial fishing. 
The new color format makes it look like any 

other magazine. 

Cost excludes some. Too many do not know 
it exists. Find free advertising. 

Articles are "light" and often not well- 

Is there something you would like to see 
included in Coastwatch that is not there now? 

More seafood recipes. 
More reader forum, questions and answers. 
That's how we intend for Back Talk to be used, 
but only a few readers have asked questions. 
More information on recreational fishing. 

More on the environmental effects of 
waterfront construction and development. 

1 would like to see more about how kids can 
become more involved with marine issues. 

More ideas from Sea Grant on programs 
concerning positive ways to produce seafood 
and not damage the environment. 

Please suggest story ideas for Coastwatch 

Beach erosion. 

Articles about individual barrier islands — 

geography, history, development, preservation. 
Any historical information about small towns 

— Ocracoke, Swan Quarter, Oriental — along 

the North Carolina coast. 
Pirates of the coast. 
Intracoastal Waterway. 
Controversy about the horses at Currituck vs. 

the horses at Rachel Carson. 
Stories on Masonboro Island preservation, 

Oregon Inlet, whales and artificial reefs. 
Beach grasses and shrubs for erosion. 
Charter industry. 
Impacts of overfishing. 
Wastewater treatment. 
Hunting, decoys, decoymakers. 

Age of subscibers: 

18 and under (0%) 

19 to 29 (3%) 
30 to 49 (39%) 
50 to 65 (30%) 
Over 65 (26%) 
No response (1%) 

Sex of readers: 

Male (54%) Female (32%) 

Education: (Check highest grade completed.) 

Grade school (1%) 
High school (15%) 
College (51%) 
Master's (23%) 
Doctorate (10%) 

Area of residence: 

Coastal (36%) 
Piedmont (35%) 
Mountains (2%) 
Out-of-state (27%) 



Coastwatch Staff: 

Kathy Hart, Managing Editor 
Jeannie Faris and Carla B. Burgess, 

Staff Writers and Editors 
L. Noble, Designer 
Debra Lynch, Circulation Manager 

The University of North Carolina Sea 
Grant College Program is a federal/ 
state program that promotes the wise 
use of our coastal and marine re- 
sources through research, extension 
and education. It joined the National 
Sea Grant College Network in 1970 as 
an institutional program. Six years 
later, it was designated a Sea Grant 
College. Today, UNC Sea Grant sup- 
ports several research projects, a 12- 
member extension program and three 
communicators. B.J. Copeland is di- 
rector. The program is funded by the 
U.S. Department of Commerce's Na- 
tional Oceanic and Atmospheric Ad- 
ministration and the state through the 
University of North Carolina. 

Coastwatch (ISSN 1068-784X) is 
published bimonthly, six times a year, 
for $12 by the University of North 
Carolina Sea Grant College Program, 
N.C. State University, Raleigh, NC 
27695-8605. Application to Mail 
at Second-Class Postage Rates is 
pending at Raleigh, NC. Telephone: 
919/515-2454. Fax: 919/515-7095. 

POSTMASTER: Send address 
changes to Coastwatch, UNC Sea 
Grant, Box 8605, N.C. State 
University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8605. 

Front cover photo of Nags Head 
Woods by Lundie Spence. 

Inside front cover photo of a live 
oak at Shackleford Banks by 
Scott D. Taylor. 

Printed on recycled paper ^ 
by Highland Press Inc. in f m £ 
Fayetteville, N.C. 

r o m the top 

Dear Readers: 

Explore the coastal canopies of North Carolina's 
diminishing maritime forests. Let Jeannie Faris explain 
these fragile, yet hardy ecosystems and their importance 
to our coastal communities. Learn what state and local 
governments are doing to protect these forests for the 

Next, get a lesson in language coastal-style. Free- 
lance writer Sarah Friday Peters delves into the distinctive 
dialects that distinguish coastal communities from one 
another and from their inland neighbors. Discover the 
brogue of the Outer Banks and the cadence of the 
Carteret County localisms, and learn the difference 


In t h i 

between a "slumgullion" and a "dingbatter." 

Then take a seat at the table and set your taste buds 
for a coastal fall favorite — oysters. After separating the 
myths from the truths, I'll offer you some safety tips for 
buying and cooking these delectable mollusks. And to 
top it off, I've provided some tried-and-true oyster 
recipes developed by Joyce Taylor, Sea Grant's seafood 
education agent. 

Don't forget to read Coastal Commentary. Coastal 
Water Quality Specialist Barbara Doll explains why too 
many nutrients can cause problems in coastal waters. 

Until next issue, Kathy Hart 



Page 10 

Fading Forests: 
Saving Maritime Forests Tract by Tract ... 2 

Rating North Carolina's Maritime Forests ... 9 

Binoculars and Bird Calls: 
Tracking Maritime Fowl ... 1 1 

Coastal Dialects: 
Queen's English or a Language of Their Own? ... 12 

Oysters Offer a Stimulating Feast ... 18 

The Aft Deck ... 22 

Coastal Commentary 
Nutrients in Our Coastal Waters: 
Too Much of a Good Thing? ... 24 

Bookstore ... 25 

OCT 28 1993 

N.C. ST 

Page II 
& Bird Calls 

Page 2 
Maritime Forests 


Saving Maritime Forests Tract by Tract 

We abuse land because 
we regard it as a commodity 
belonging to us. 
When we see land as a 
community to which we belong, 
we may begin to use it 
with love and respect. 
- A Sand County Almanac 

By Jeannie Faris 

Naturalist Aldo Leopold penned 
these words 45 years ago, and they're 
a guiding principle for conservation- 
ists even today. But somehow the 
message has been muted by the de- 
mand for land, especially when valu- 
able coastal real estate is at stake. 

Witness North Carolina's shrink- 
ing maritime forests. Sanctuaries for 
migratory birds, they grow on the 
coastline and barrier islands, thick 
with twisted live oaks, red cedars and 
loblolly pines, woven with sinewy 
vines and skirted by green under- 

Without question, people love 
these forests, even to the point of thin- 
ning them out and building in them. 
They have become a commodity. And 
as their value is measured by the pos- 
sibilities for construction — the view 
— the plant and animal life they sup- 
port is destroyed. 

Historically, little has shielded 
maritime forests from the bulldozer 
other than the landowner's preference 
for dense cover or an on-site wetland 
that was eligible for protection. 

But that was before a 1988 inven- 
tory showed that by the turn of the 
century, all privately owned maritime 
forests in North Carolina would be 
cleared, pruned or developed. The 
window of opportunity was about to 

slam shut. The only remaining stands 
would be locked into protected pre- 
serves, owned by the government and 
conservation groups. 

State regulators took notice. 

Today, the outlook is improved. 
The state has rallied local govern- 
ments to protect their own maritime 

Scott D. Taylor 

little has shielded maritime 
forests from the bulldozer 
other than the landowner's 
preference for dense cover or 
an on-site wetland that was 
eligible for protection. 

forests. Local ordinances, though sub- 
ject to the winds of political change, 
can be honed as more effective protec- 
tion tools than sweeping state regula- 
tions, says Mike Lopazanski, coastal 
program analyst for the N.C. Division 
of Coastal Management (DCM). 

"Local ordinances have been get- 
ting better all the time," he says. 
"People have recognized that these 

forests are important." 

Still, ordinances can only manage 
— not stop — development on pri- 
vately owned lots. The best recourse is 
to buy the remnants, protecting the 
unusual barrier island habitat. Conser- 
vationists say the maritime forests are 
worth the effort. But not all agree 
they're worth the price. Because the 
forest sites are in such high demand, 
they command prices that the govern- 
ment and conservation groups are 
hard-pressed to pay. 

Buxton Woods is a good example. 
The price of saving 700 acres there 
was $4.9 million in state and federal 
dollars. Close to half of that land was 
bought in the last two years, and more 
purchases are expected. 

Even costlier is the maritime for- 
est on Bald Head Island, where a 
128-acre site recently cost $2.4 mil- 
lion. The Nature Conservancy North 
Carolina Chapter arranged the pur- 
chase and is negotiating a second 
phase of 70 to 90 acres. 

"You literally almost have to buy 
land by the square foot rather than by 
the acre," says Fred Annand, associate 
director of The Nature Conservancy 
North Carolina Chapter. 

So conservation groups snap up 
scraps of these woods through dona- 
tions, grants, conservation easements 
and bargain sales. In the case of the 
Bald Head Woods purchase, money 
was raised through a $4 million grant 
from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser- 
vice, a $1 million land donation and 
$325,000 from the Recreation and 
Natural Heritage Trust Fund, which 
receives proceeds from the sale of per- 
sonalized license plates. About $2.9 
million remains for future purchases. 



Annand and Todd Miller, execu- 
tive director of the N.C. Coastal Fed- 
eration, lament that it's come to this. 
The history of maritime forest preser- 
vation in North Carolina is full of 
missed opportunities to buy and regu- 
late the land, they say. The state 
passed up chances in the 1960s and 
1970s to buy Bald Head Island prop- 
erty for its assessed tax value. Simi- 
larly, Buxton Woods tracts were 
passed over when they were much 
more affordable. 

"It's really unfortunate that here 
in North Carolina, the state itself 
didn't have the vision or foresight to 
protect maritime forests years ago, 
when land was more affordable," 
Annand says. 

On the regulatory front, the 
Coastal Area Management Act 
doesn't offer a protection category 
for maritime forests. Nor has any site 
been specifically listed as an Area of 
Environmental Concern, worthy of 
special requirements on develop- 

"Are we doing enough to protect 
maritime forests?" Miller asks. "No." 

Nobody knows precisely how 
many acres stood before the start of 
the coastal development boom of the 
1970s. But today, less than 12,000 
acres, owned publicly and privately, 
stand on barrier islands, according to 
the 1988 survey commissioned by 
the DCM. About 30 percent have 
been corralled by preservation 

The remaining maritime forests 
number 20 along North Carolina's 
barrier islands, ranging from 12 acres 
to 3,000 acres. The top-priority sites, 
the jewels of our coast, are Kitty 
Hawk Woods, Nags Head Woods, 
Buxton Woods and Bald Head 
Woods. Efforts continue to save 
them. But at sites less known, the rate 
of development has been dizzying, 
and it's been accelerated in recent 
years by talk of protecting maritime 

land. Since 1988, when the 12,000 
acres were inventoried, four forests 
have fallen to development. They 
were Atlantic Station, Emerald Isle 
Canal, Ocean Ridge and Piney Point 
— all on Bogue Banks. 

North Carolina is the meeting 
point of subtropical, broad-leaf ever- 
green trees of the southern coastal 
forests and the temperate, deciduous 
elements of the northern forests. 
Bald Head Island, for example, is the 
northernmost range for the cabbage 
palmetto, while American beech is 
found only in the maritime forests 
from Nags Head north. 

The tortuous shape of the 
maritime trees may be their 
most distinguishing feature - 
at points all along the coast. 
Salt spray and wind seem to 
age the oaks beyond their 
years, giving them an ancient, 
gnarled appearance. 

Lundie Spence 

Consequently, there is no such 
thing as a typical maritime forest in 
this state. They vary to the north and 
south, inland and shoreward, and 
eventually they blend into mainland 
forests. But that's not to say that they 

don't share defining features. The tor- 
tuous shape of the maritime trees may 
be their most distinguishing feature — 
at points all along the coast. Salt spray 
and wind seem to age the oaks beyond 
their years, giving them an ancient, 
gnarled appearance. Their branches 
reach wide over the forest floor, and 
their waxy leaves form a canopy to 
deflect salt and heat. Underneath this 
leafy umbrella grows an understory 
of smaller trees and plants, as well 
as a population of animals hardy 
enough to live in this rigorous 

The uniform appearance of mari- 
time forests, belying the regional dif- 
ferences, is one of several paradoxes 
of these unique wooded habitats. 

There are others. Maritime forests 
are at once fragile and hardy. Fragile 
because they're crippled by intrusive 
breaks in their canopy that let in salt 
and wind. The airborne salt tips the 
fragile balance of nature, and the 
trees begin to die. But they're hardy 
enough to grow on inhospitable bar- 
rier islands, where they live life on the 
edge, already stressed by the natural 
forces of salt spray, wind and nutrient- 
poor and droughty soils. 

"I think these are the toughest 
forests we have," says Ralph Heath, 
now retired from the U.S. Geological 
Survey. "If they weren't tough, they 
wouldn't be living in these environ- 

Maritime forests anchor the shift- 
ing soils of barrier islands, preventing 
erosion, protecting against storm dam- 
age, preserving groundwater and pro- 
viding habitat. But these bulwarks of 
nature, disfigured by the elements, 
appear to crawl away from the ocean 

The shrubs tilt landward. Trees 
reach and twist for inland shelter, all 
the while changing size, shape and 
species as they retreat from the water 
and wind. Closest to the water, 
stumpy shrub thickets take root. They 


fade into high-canopied maritime 
woods and wetland scrubs farther 

This progression of the mari- 
time forest from the seaward edge of 
barrier islands has been studied by 
the N.C. Natural Heritage Program, 
which inventories and prioritizes the 
state's rare plant and animal species. 

Maritime shrub forests live 
closest to the salt water. The 
sculpted vegetation that grows here 
— usually live oak, wax myrtle and 
yaupon — has been sheared by salt 
spray. Looking more like brushy 
footstools than their inland kin, these 
trees and plants develop a thick pro- 
tective leaf covering. 

Behind the maritime shrub grow 
evergreen forests and deciduous 
forests, depending on the region. In 
both, branches thick with leaves knit 

a canopy over the forest floor. It 
cloaks the more vulnerable sub- 
canopy of shrubs, herbs and smaller 
stands of red bay, ironwood, Virginia 
red cedar and flowering dogwood. 
But beyond these similarities, the 
species that weave the canopy and 
underbrush of the two forest types 
vary like the handiwork of different 

The sweeping canopy of the ev- 
ergreen forest, most common from 
Buxton Woods south, is dominated 
by live oak and loblolly pine. Its 
northern counterpart, the maritime 
deciduous forest, is thick with 
loblolly pine and hardwoods such as 
Spanish oak, beech, sweet gum and 
water oak. A greater diversity of 
greenery sprouts from the floors of 
the deciduous forests, which grow in 
Nags Head Woods, Kitty Hawk 

Woods and Currituck Banks. 

In both forests, a skirt of shrubs 
brightens the brown matted floor 
with the green of yaupon, wax 
myrtle, beautyberry, blue huckle- 
berry and cane. Vines, some as thick 
as an adult's forearm, twist up the 
tree trunks and along the reach of 
their limbs. Rainwater washes over 
the vines and lichens of red and 
green to revitalize the roots and soil 
of the forest floor. 

Maritime forests grow on a 
washboard topography of swales and 
ridges that correspond to old dunes 
of long-dried beaches. Swales are the 
low-lying valleys between the dunes; 
ridges are the dune peaks anchored 
in place by the maritime trees. With- 
out this greenery stronghold, the 
dunes would be active again. 



Like the changing canopies of 
evergreen and deciduous forests, the 
tree and plant populations shift from 
ridge to swale. Live oak and red cedar 
dominate the canopy on dune ridges. 
They stand low and reach high with 
their branches. The loblolly pine, ash, 
maple and other mixed hardwoods 
that stand in the swales grow taller 
and less branched. A mixture sinks 
roots in the slopes between. 

In the bottom of these swales and 
other barrier island depressions grow 
freshwater wetland forests: swamp 
forest or shrub swamp. Both are wet 
because the ground surface is below 
the water table, but their height and 
vegetation differ. 

The swamp forests — with a tall 
canopy of red maple, sweet gum, 
green ash and bald cypress — can be 
found at Kitty Hawk Woods, South- 

em Shores Cypress Swamp, Nags 
Head Woods, Theodore Roosevelt 
Natural Area and Emerald Isle 
Woods. The underbrush is thick with 
vines, herbs and a population of iron- 
wood, swamp red bay and sweet bay. 

The low-standing maritime shrub 
swamps emerge from the forests as a 
dense canopy of shrubs or small trees, 
including red bay, swamp dogwood 
and occasional loblolly pine or red 
maple. Rich in ferns and tangled with 
the vines of greenbrier and Carolina 
supplejack, they are found in Buxton 
Woods and Nags Head Woods. 

These freshwater wetlands range 
from moist soil to knee-deep sloshing 
water, all habitat that is critical to the 
biodiversity of a maritime forest, says 
Vince Bellis, a biology professor at 
East Carolina University. Species that 
aren't tolerant of salt water thrive 

here. Frogs and some turtles populate 
the wetland, where they're prey to 
snakes, birds and alligators. Rac- 
coons also rely on this critical habi- 
tat, foraging at night for frogs, toads, 
snakes and birds. But they don't 
mind moving to the fringe of the salt 
marsh for mussels and crabs. Deer, 
too, graze on marsh and inner dune 

Still, the habitat is less than hos- 
pitable. The forests on barrier islands 
support only one-third to one-quarter 
of the biodiversity on the adjacent 
mainland, Bellis says. 

Few rare animals live only in the 
maritime forest, but this habitat is 
important for a wide range of wild- 
life. It offers critical feeding, resting 
and roosting sites for migratory land 
birds, especially in the fall. Unfortu- 
nately, barrier island wildlife is also 


vulnerable to forest fragmentation 
or clearing for development, roads, 
power lines, water and sewer lines. 
The continuity and habitat of the for- 
est is lost, isolating populations and 
preventing gene flow. 

Protecting maritime forests as 
disconnected patches of woods 
won't be enough for North Carolina, 
says Alan Weakley, a botanist and 
assistant coordinator for the N.C. 
Natural Heritage Program in the Di- 
vision of Parks and Recreation. Only 
as functioning ecosystems — with 
canopy, understory and wetlands in- 
tact — will the biodiversity and habi- 
tat for rare species be preserved, he 
says. That calls for preserving tracts 
of undisturbed maritime forest. 

But saving these woods is more 
than an esoteric exercise in conserva- 

Maritime forests are valuable for 
recreation, educational programs, 
green space and tourism. Tens of 
thousands of people visit each year 
and take nature walks in the 
Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area, 
Hammocks Beach State Park, Nags 
Head Woods and Buxton Woods. 

They also protect the water sup- 
ply on barrier islands by collecting 
rainwater in their sandy soils. Aqui- 
fers below maritime forests in Nags 
Head and Hatteras Island supply lo- 
cal water taps. 

And these forests have a fasci- 
nating history. Since Native Ameri- 
cans inhabited North Carolina 
shores, the maritime forests have 
drawn people to their shaded cover. 
The early settlers built their homes in 
the sheltered forests, gardened in hu- 
mus under the trees and built their 
boats from the gnarled live oak and 
Atlantic white cedar. 

For all these valuable qualities, 
however, the options for preserving 
maritime forests are limited. 

The Coastal Area Management 

Act of 1974 does not protect mari- 
time forests from being cleared. It 
was a missed opportunity, Miller 
says. As a result — in the absence 
of local regulations — the maritime 
forest ecosystem can be destroyed 
by unmanaged activities that in- 
clude widespread clearing of forest 
vegetation, wetland alteration, lev- 
eling of dune ridges and drawdown 
of the water table. 

"To a large extent, the issue has 
already been decided," Miller says. 

A specific maritime forest 

Maritime forests anchor the 
shifting soiis of barrier islands, 
preventing erosion, protecting 

against storm damage, 
preserving groundwater 

and providing habitat. 
But these bulwarks of nature, 
disfigured by the elements, 

appear to crawi away 

from the ocean spray 

Lundie Spence 

would come under the protective 
jurisdiction of DCM only if it was 
granted status as an Area of Envi- 
ronmental Concern (AEC), a 
unique natural area of statewide sig- 
nificance, says Lopazanski. AEC 

status requires that development 
meet standards to protect a specific 
coastal resource. 

The Coastal Resources Com- 
mission (CRC) alone has the power 
to designate AECs, but it grants 
them sparingly. It has consistently 
declined to grant special protection 
for any maritime forest, starting with 
its Buxton Woods decision in 1989. 
That decision, however, hinged on 
Dare County's agreement to protect 
the state's largest maritime forest 
with a strict local ordinance. 

And though Buxton Woods was 
not the precedent-setting case that 
conservationists had hoped for, it did 
invite a closer look at the condition 
of maritime forests. DCM con- 
tracted with Duke University re- 
searchers to inventory all of the 
state's barrier island woodlands. The 
unsettling findings of the 1988 re- 
port were taken up by a working 
group, named by the CRC, to sug- 
gest ways to protect them. 

Weakley, a member of the 
working group, says he doubted the 
ability of AEC status to preserve the 
integrity of maritime forests. It can 
only limit the impact of develop- 
ment, he says. The working group 
suggested several other courses of 

It directed the state to explain to 
maritime forest landowners the im- 
portance of their property and op- 
tions for protecting it, to help devel- 
opers and small lot owners prepare 
site plans to minimize the impacts 
and to encourage local governments 
to pass ordinances that protect the 
maritime forests. 

As a result, some local govern- 
ments, especially in Dare County, 
have forged new protection pack- 
ages for their maritime forests. Nags 
Head and Kitty Hawk now have 
strict zoning. In Carteret County, 
Pine Knoll Shores limited the area 



of a lot that can be altered adjacent 
to the Theodore Roosevelt Natural 
Area to 25 percent. Farther south, in 
Brunswick County, Bald Head Is- 
land passed vegetation protection 

But above all, the 
working group urged 
the state and nonprofit 
conservation groups to 
buy the remaining qual- 
ity tracts. It recom- 
mended a general AEC 
designation for mari- 
time forests as a last 
resort if these lands 
couldn't be adequately 

Nine maritime for- 
ests were ranked by the 
panel as the state's top 
priorities: Kitty Hawk 
Woods, Nags Head 
Woods, Buxton Woods, 
Theodore Roosevelt 
Natural Area, Emerald Isle Woods, 
Huggins Island, Bluff Island, 
Middle Island and Bald Head 
Woods. Emerald Isle Woods was 
eventually dropped. The sites were 
nominated for AEC designation by 
several environmental groups but 
dismissed by the CRC in favor of 
other options cited by the working 

And so continues the struggle 
between conservationists and regu- 
lators over how best to protect valu- 
able natural areas. But it's a struggle 
that has spawned some successes, 
Lopazanski says. Today, nearly 
3,300 of the 5,000 acres in these 
high-priority sites are managed as 
natural areas for conservation. More 
than 95 percent of the remaining 
1,700 acres is subject to strict local 
protection ordinances. 

Weakley offers mixed reviews 
of recent efforts to save the remain- 
ing maritime forests. Since the 1988 
inventory, four Bogue Banks sites 

have been lost; on the other hand, 
significant tracts have been saved. 

"Over the last several years, 
there have been notable victories and 
notable losses," he says. "Every year, 
a few more acres of maritime forest 

Lundie Spence 

The shrubs tilt landward. 

Trees reach and twist 
for inland shelter, all the while 
changing size, shape and 

species as they retreat 
from the water and wind. 

Closest to the water, 

stumpy shrub thickets 
take root. They fade into 
high-canopied maritime 
woods and wetland scrubs 
farther inland. 

are assured protection. But also ev- 
ery year, there are fewer acres of 
maritime forest remaining. This 
threatened ecosystem is still declin- 
ing in North Carolina, but at least 
we're making progress in protecting 
a few of the most important rem- 

Future gains, however, may be 
modest since the financial means for 
purchasing the tracts are limited. 

Market forces are a major determinant 
in what can be done. Maritime forest 
land is some of the most expensive 
in the state, though prices vary by 

The state is actively pursuing the 
path of acquisition that 
was suggested by the 
working group, espe- 
cially in Buxton Woods, 
Bald Head Woods and 
Kitty Hawk Woods, 
Lopazanski says. The 
unfolding phase-two pur- 
chase in Bald Head 
Woods wraps up three 
years of work by the 
CRC, DCM and local 
and private groups. 

Miller, however, 
predicts that the conser- 
vation effort will eventu- 
ally nam away from the 
barrier island maritime 
forests and focus on bur- 
geoning development along the estuar- 
ies, sounds and bays. The effort to 
save the maritime forest ecosystems 
began too late, he says. As a result, 
the best that can be hoped for most 
sites is to preserve the appearance of 
the forest. 

But the lesson can be applied to 
other ecosystems that are in danger of 
encroachment. And the hard question 
then is how to allocate the money. 

"The costs will have to be 
weighed: $10 million for 100,000 
acres of wetland versus $4 million for 
several hundred acres of maritime for- 
est," Miller says. E 

Information about maritime forest 
types was provided by the N.C. Natu- 
ral Heritage Program. Other helpful 
sources of information were An As- 
sessment of Maritime Forest Re- 
sources on the North Carolina Coast 
and Final Report of the Maritime For- 
est Working Group, both Division of 
Coastal Management publications. 



Eight maritime forests stand out 
among others on North Carolina's bar- 
rier islands because of their ecological 
significance and potential for preserva- 
tion. In 1990, a citizens' working 
group studying the state of maritime 
forests rated them as high-priority sites 
for preservation efforts. 

received attention when nearly 600 
acres of the 1,900-acre forest were do- 
nated as a conservation easement for a 
natural area. The state and Kitty Hawk 
split the easement, which is a perma- 
nent tool that limits future uses of the 
land. The forest is more than 50 per- 
cent maritime swamp forest; the re- 
mainder is deciduous forest owned by 
developers. It is on the widest part of 
Currituck Banks with gently rolling 
dune ridges and low, wet swales. And 
it is the largest site in North Carolina 
with species more typical of northern 
maritime forests. The forest's signifi- 
cance lies in its size, lack of distur- 
bance and extensive forest wetlands. It 
is also the only forest site in the state 
with stands of bald cypress. 

MAGS HEAD WOODS, Dare County, 
is an ecological preserve owned by 
The Nature Conservancy North Caro- 
lina Chapter and the town of Nags 
Head. Today, 755 acres of the remain- 
ing 900-acre maritime forest have been 
set aside for conservation. The effort 
was launched more than a dozen years 
ago with a small land donation from a 
concerned couple. Most recently, The 



Nature Conservancy and Nags Head 
bought 390 acres at a special conser- 
vation price from Resolution Trust 
Corp., which acquired the land from a 
failed savings and loan. The forest's 
steep topography is formed by relic 
dunes that dip into low-lying swales 
and freshwater ponds. The largest of 
the interdunal ponds is the primary 
water source for the town of Nags 
Head. And though the forest has a low 
diversity of plants compared to main- 
land forests, it has the highest diver- 
sity of all maritime forests on the 
Outer Banks and is habitat for rare 
plant species such as woolly beach 
heather and fen orchid. 

BUXTON WOODS, Dare County, is 
the largest remaining maritime forest 
in the state with 3,000 acres of dense 
forest on a relic dune-swale system. 
The federal government bought 920 
acres of the privately owned forest for 
the Cape Hatteras National Seashore; 
North Carolina purchased 700 acres 
and preserved them as natural areas 
within the N.C. Coastal Reserve. The 
remaining acres are subdivided into 
hundreds of privately owned parcels. 
Buxton Woods displays the greatest 
diversity of the state's maritime for- 
ests, with a range of vegetation that 
includes freshwater marshes, swamp 
forests, shrub swamps and upland 
maritime forests. This diversity of 
habitat supports a variety of rare flora 
and fauna. Eight rare plant species 
monitored by the N.C. Natural Heri- 
tage Program have been reported in 
the area — the greatest concentration 
of rare plant species on the Outer 
Banks. The diversity of mammals is 
also greater than any other forested 
barrier island in North Carolina or ad- 
jacent states. The site was nominated 
as an Area of Environmental Concern 
in 1986 when plans for a golf course 
were hatched. The state designation 
would have been precedent-setting, 
but Dare County agreed to protect the 
forest with a local ordinance. 


AREA, Carteret County, is the largest 
remaining tract of the Bogue Banks 
maritime forest. North Carolina owns 
and manages the 290-acre site as a state 
natural area, which is valued for its un- 
disturbed maritime forest and extensive 
dune ridge-swale system. The forest is 
significant because it is a large, con- 
tiguous tract containing all the common 
maritime forest species, swamp forest, 
freshwater and saltwater marshes. In 
nearby Atlantic Beach, the maritime 
forests have been cleared entirely for 
commercial development. But Pine 
Knoll Shores, where the natural area is 
located, is one of the highest, most 
stable and heavily forested parts of the 
island. To the south, Emerald Isle is 
under extreme development pressure. 

HUGGINS ISLAND, Onslow County, is 
100 acres and generally flat. The steep 
sides of the island leading up from the 
marsh are about 6 1/2 feet high. It is 
relatively undisturbed on one of the 
most rapidly developing sections of the 
North Carolina coast. It is a good ex- 
ample of maritime forest on a sound, 
rare along the North Carolina coast be- 
cause the larger sound islands such as 
Harkers Island have been cleared for 
development. The island has many 
large old trees of various species and a 
significant stand of swamp forest. The 
owners have stipulated that it be devel- 
oped as a natural area, park, corporate 
retreat or small subdivision. The island 
is classified as conservation in the 
Onslow County land-use plan. 

County, is chiefly a resort in the 
three-part Smith Island Complex. The 
Nature Conservancy North Carolina 
Chapter negotiated the state's purchase 
of a 128-acre tract in the 414-acre for- 
est; another purchase is in the works. 
Today, half of the original maritime 
forest is golf course and development. 
The extremely old trees are one of its 
most significant remaining features. It 

is also the largest maritime forest in the 
state that has undeveloped natural tran- 
sition zones with both soundside salt 
marshes and oceanside dune systems. 
Its sparse canopy, fallen to storms, al- 
lows light to penetrate and nourish a 
thick undergrowth of vines. The entire 
Smith Island Complex is registered as a 
National Natural Landmark. Bald Head 
is the southernmost island in the com- 
plex and supports maritime vegetation 
resembling that of the South Carolina 
sea islands, such as an abundance of 
cabbage palmettos. 

MIDDLE ISLAND, Brunswick County, 
is 100 acres and located between Bluff 
Island and Bald Head Island. The pri- 
vately owned island is almost com- 
pletely surrounded by marsh and has 
two to three dune ridges that are pro- 
nounced at the western end. Like the 
other islands of the Smith Island Com- 
plex, its sparse canopy is disturbed by 
frequent storms that increase light and 
promote dense undergrowth. Although 
this island is being developed, enough 
of the woods remains natural to merit 
its protection as an excellent example 
of a maritime forest with subtropical 

BLUFF ISLAND, Brunswick County, is 
the smallest and northernmost island of 
the Smith Island Complex. The state 
owns, but doesn't actively manage, the 
70-acre tract. It is surrounded by marsh 
on its northern, southern and western 
boundaries; its eastern boundary is a 
dune system and active beach. There is 
little topographical relief on the island, 
which is flat except for two dune ridges 
that run down its middle. The forest 
canopy is thin due to frequent storms 
that allow the growth of understory and 
vines. Its freshwater pond is unusually 
close — about 330 feet — to the beach. □ 

From An Assessment of Maritime 
Forest Resources on the North Caro- 
lina Coast, a report submitted in 1988 
to the Division of Coastal Management. 

Jeannie Faris 


Binoculars and Bird Calls: 
Tracking Maritime Fowl 

John Fussell enters the maritime 
forest, cresting the ridges, wrestling 
thorny vines, until he's found a suit- 
able clearing among the pines and 
live oaks. He holds his binoculars at 
attention, just in front of his chest. 

Silence. Then he calls: 

Sh, sh, sh, sh, sh. 

Sh, sh, sh, sh. 

Sh, sh, sh, sh, sh. 

From deep inside the Theodore 
Roosevelt Natural Area, an unseen 
prothonotary warbler answers him 
with triple "tweets." 

A Carolina wren weighs in with 
a "toodle de doo." 

The noise that Fussell, a biolo- 
gist, is making is a distress call. And 
it's supposed to draw birds close to 

This time, no birds come into 
view. But several sound off. 

The species of birds singing to- 
day in this Carteret County natural 
area have changed some since 1974, 
when Fussell first surveyed a 25-acre 
plot there. 

Some are new to the area; others 
have disappeared. 

For better or worse, this pattern 
is emerging all along the Carolina 
coast as barrier island forests are 
fragmented and cleared away. The 
effect is compounded by the fact that 
barrier islands, by their nature, sup- 
port lower diversity of plants and 
animals than the mainland, Fussell 

Carolina chickadees, for in- 
stance, have been traditionally absent 
from barrier islands in North Caro- 
lina, but they began moving into the 
Roosevelt natural area 25 years ago. 

"In the 1970s, you wouldn't 
have heard a chickadee singing 
here," Fussell says, adding that 

they're still not nesting at Cape Hatteras 
or Buxton Woods. 

The same pattern of migration is 
true for starlings, an introduced species 
from Eurasia that has driven out some 
native birds by taking over their nest 
cavities. Starlings could be responsible 
for a decline in the numbers of 

the great crested flycatcher, Fussell 
says. Similarly, the black-throated green 
warblers may have fallen victim to the 
growing population of brown- headed 
cowbirds and common grackles. The 
cowbird lays its eggs in the nests of 
smaller birds, forcing them to find new 
living quarters. 

A more welcome sight to bird en- 
thusiasts was the arrival of the white 
ibis, which started nesting along the 
coast in the 1960s. Only a rare summer 
visitor to North Carolina earlier in this 
century, it's now a common species 
along most of the Carolina coast, even 
in the winter. Likewise, the osprey was 
rarely sighted nesting in barrier island 
treetops before the early 1970s. 

"You had to go to a big effort to see 

an osprey nest," Fussell says. "But to- 
day, they're on channel markers. 
They're all over the place." 

The osprey is making a comeback 
from DDT poisoning that left its eggs 
brittle and unviable. Other immigrants 
are riding the wings of "progress" 
around North Carolina's maritime for- 
ests. As the coast is developed, its woods 
are fragmented by roadways and clear- 
ings for sewer systems and power lines. 
These openings are road maps for 
non-native birds that fly in and some- 
times flush out the original populations. 

In general, the ubiquitous species 
have grown in number in the maritime 
forests; the Carolina wren and northern 
cardinal are the most common. 

Fussell 's surveys of the Theodore 
Roosevelt Natural Area — in 1974, 1977 
and 1993 — show that common grackles 
have increased. But the species of the 
forest interior have declined. Black- 
throated green warblers, and perhaps 
other species, are now absent from the 
island as breeders. Once, 10 pairs nested 
in the area each breeding season. 

The red-shouldered hawk, present in 
the 1970s, is gone, Fussell says. This is 
true also for the red-eyed vireo, white- 
eyed vireo, great crested flycatcher, 
black-throated green warbler and 

The brown-headed cowbird was not 
represented in the 1970s at all, but 
showed strongly in the 1993 survey. 
The blue jay and Carolina chickadee 
turned up for the first time in 1977 and 
have remained. 

"Those kinds of patterns would be 
the case in other maritime forests, and 
not just maritime forests but a lot of 
wooded areas along the coast," Fussell 
says. "Some species have moved out; 
they've ceased to be there. 

Jeannie Faris 


0^ CZ) S ' _L 1 L 3 I E/ C[Z ' X ' S . 

By Sarah Friday Peters 

Spend any time around Harkers 
Island, Ocracoke or the other nooks 
and crannies of North Carolina's 
coast, and you're likely to hear 
something akin to a foreign language. 

Take the words of a young 
fisherman from Cedar Island. 

"Oi loike to catch them Ion thans 
that look loike snakes — eels, yeah," 
the 6-year-old boy said. "Meeny 
toimes" that summer, he'd brought 
them home to his mother's fry-pan. 
"It'd have a 'hole mess of eels in it, 
and she chopped' em in half and we 

"Did they taste good?" someone 

"Noit to me they didn't," the boy 
said. "Taists like snake." 

something large 

Not only do the words sound 
funny — a sharp detour from the 
genteel, rolling drawl of the South — 
but the vocabulary itself takes a curve 
down a road less traveled by most 
North Carolinians. 

Words like "begaumed," 

"benambered," "wadjit" and 
"jellywhopper" color coastal speech 
from Duck to Wilmington and leave 
visitors intrigued as to the mysteries 
of their origins. 

Some natives say the dialects 
survive from the time of Queen 
Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh. 
Others say shipwrecks left English 
ancestors stranded on the beaches. 
The Lost Colony itself may mark the 
beginnings of the tongue, some 
believe. More likely, though, the 
dialects are a mix of foreign and 
regional speech patterns that have 
threaded together over time. 

No one knows for sure how 
many dialects can be heard along 
North Carolina's coast. But since a 
dialect is made up of certain sounds 
and words spoken by one group or in 
one place, each community could 
feasibly have its own. 

The state's coastal towns were 
settled at different times in different 
ways, says Wynne Dough, curator of 
the Outer Banks History Center and a 
native of Roanoke Island. Differing 
settlement patterns affected the way 
the people of Manteo, Hatteras and 
other communities lived. And it 
influenced their speech. 

Today, the brogues of Ocracoke 
and Harkers Island — often called 
"Hoigh Toide" — sound the most 
intense. But the dialects of Hatteras, 
Cedar Island, Salter Path and other 
sites along the Outer Banks carry 
their own blend of spoken signatures. 
Only a stretch of coastline near 
Wilmington lacks well-defined 
patterns of speech. 

The way the "Ocockers" 
(Ah-cockers) of Ocracoke, the 
"Ca'e" (Kay) Bankers of Cape 
Lookout and other coastal natives 

speak today can be traced to the 
beginnings of European settlement 
some 300 years ago. People came to 
the Carolina coast first by way of the 
Albemarle region in the mid- 1600s. 
Then they sailed into Ocracoke, Cape 
Lookout, Wilmington and other 
points south during the next 100 


to wet down 

Where these 17th- and 18th- 
century pioneers settled, their dialects 
followed. And American English 
began to take shape. 

English settlers influenced the 
speech of the Carolina coast the most. 
Yet marked differences arose from 
Wilmington south. In the Piedmont, 
where Scotch-Irish and Scottish 
Highlanders moved in, other lan- 
guage lines were drawn. And to the 
west, Scotch-Irish and German 
settlers brought a different tongue. 

It was isolation, coupled with a 
slow rate of change, that kept hints of 
the Old World speech alive at the 


Queen's English or a Language o 


Until the mid- 1600s, few 
pioneers ventured to the desolate 
strip of sand called the Outer Banks. 

English settlers first followed 
the lead of Sir Walter Raleigh to the 
Albemarle region and Virginia in 
the 1640s. The king's lord's propri- 
etors deeded huge tracts of land 
there in the hopes that settlement 
would take place. 

Celts, Turks, Moors, Italians, 
Dutchmen, Africans and others 
came, too, Dough wrote in a 1982 
essay. But the English and Celts 
came in the greatest numbers. 

They migrated first into Vir- 
ginia, says historian R.D. Connor in 
North Carolina: Rebuilding an 
Ancient Commonwealth. 



to walk back and forth 

"The sand reefs, the shifting 
inlets, the ocean currents and the 
breakers off Cape Fear, Cape 
Lookout and Cape Hatteras deter- 
mined the fact that North Carolina 

should not be settled by colonists 
coming directly from Europe, but by 
overflows from her neighbors," he 

By the 1660s, settlers began 
filtering down from the Albemarle 
to the North Shore of the Outer 
Banks in search of fertile farmland 
and navigable waterways. Primarily 
natives of west and southwest 
England, they raised cattle, grew 
tobacco, fished and piloted ships on 
the Potomac, James, Meherrin and 
Chowan rivers. 

And they stayed. Many of the 
surnames recorded on the Outer 
Banks in the 1790 U.S. Census 
remain the same today, Dough says. 
Only wars and hurricanes uprooted 
Outer Bankers from their land 
beside the sea. 

With the people remained 
traces, or relics, of their dialects. 


Along the Outer Banks lingered 
Old English words such as "couthy" 
for kindly, "yallow" for yellow and 
"a" before participles, such as "a' 
goin'" and "a' huntin'." 

So did pronouncing the final "r" 
in words distinctly, instead of 
slurring over it, a trait more South- 
ern than English. 

Bankers speak in rhythms, too, 
emphasizing different syllables in 
certain words. They say "ax" instead 
of "ask" and often use a "v" instead 
of "th," as in "mover" and "brover" 
for "mother" and "brother," Dough 

More noticeably, they exagger- 
ate the letter "o" in words like 
"house," "out" and "about." Called a 

diphthong, two sounds blended into 
one, the letter combines the sound of 
"e" as in "bed" or "let," and "u" as 
in "put" for an ever-so-English ring. 

Visitors may hear bits and 
pieces of the Outer Banks brogue 





yC < 

f 0) 

repeated around Cape Lookout and 
especially in Ocracoke. Many of the 
dialect's traits remain distinct, but 
others are shared between towns like 
dandelion seeds scattered down the 
coast. Age-old myths cloud the true 
picture of the dialects of Ocracoke 
and the Outer Banks. 


To help clear the fog, socio- 
linguist Walt Wolfram of N.C. State 
University has identified characteris- 
tics of Ocockers' speech in a current 
study on the island. 

Ocockers keep a "t" on the end 
of words such as "oncet," he found. 
They say "h'it's" for "it's" and 
"weren't" for "wasn't" just as 



English natives did. And words like 
"bear" and "there" sound more like 
"bar" and "thar." 


a sweetheart 

- . 

Old English words keep 
turning up, too, on Ocracoke. 

If a dingbatter gets quamish 
standing on the pizzer, an Ococker 
won't mammick him. 

Translated: If an outsider gets a 
stomachache standing on the porch, 
an Ocracoke native won't bother 

But the trait that sets many 
Ocockers, Outer Bankers and Ca'e 
Bankers apart from other coastal 
communities — and keeps tourists 
and the media agog — are the 
"Hoigh Toide" pronunciations that 
sound more British than crumpets 
to our American ears. 

"What toime is it hoigh toide 
on the sound soide?" you might 
hear in Wanchese, Ocracoke or 
Hatteras, says Ford Reid in The 

More a "uhy" sound than an 
"oy" sound, this diphthong links the 
dialects of the Outer Banks together 
like a long, sturdy rope. To a 
trained ear, the sound comes from 
the back of the tongue, not the lips 

(as in "boy"), blending the "au" 
sound in "astronaut" and "box" with 
the "i" sound in "sister" and "milk." 

"I think what we're dealing with 
is an Outer Banks phenomenon," 
Wolfram says. Migrations between 
islands, following fish and escaping 
storms, were typical years ago. 


Such strange and wonderful 
speech must have exotic explana- 
tions, people think. So for decades, 
they've been searching for an 
answer and the holy grail of lan- 
guage — a pure English dialect 
straight from the queen. 

Some islanders think pirates, 
castaways from England or travelers 
shipwrecked off the coast first 
brought the brogue to the Outer 
Banks and Ocracoke. 

Others say it's Australian or 

Not so, Dough says. 

Talk about Arabs began after 
Cal H. Wylie published a novel in 
which he portrayed the sandy soils 
of the Outer Banks as "Arabia," 
Dough says. 

broken; damaged 

Some natives say their ancestors 
sailed straight to the Outer Banks 
from England. 

"My suspicion is that there was 
a bit more migration between the 
mainland," Wolfram says. Most 
likely, Ocracoke 's first settlers came 
from southeast England by way of 
the Maryland and Virginia colonies. 
The first records show English ship 
pilots staking land in 1715. 

In addition to finding strong 
affinities of the dialect to Appala- 
chian English, Wolfram has noted 
links to the dialects of Ireland, as 
well as Tangier and Smith islands 

One other myth lingers like a 
stubborn stain in Ocracoke, the 
Outer Banks and parts of Carteret 

"One thing that refuses to go 
away is this Elizabethan canard," 
says Dough. Though fabled by 
writers, no evidence supports the 

"The language of the island 
(Roanoke), particularly the older 
forms of the speech found there, is 
that of the better classes or at least 


the middle classes in England in the 
better days of Queen Elizabeth," 
wrote Collier Cobb in 1910. "The 
Raleigh voyagers having counted 
among their number gentlemen 
adventurers from all parts of the 
kingdom, it is not difficult to 
imagine that these forms were 
introduced by them." 

Words such as "couthy," 
"travel" for walk and "may" for 
maid convinced him of that connec- 

Twenty-three years later, 
Blanch N. Epler echoed Cobb's 
words in an article in National 
Geographic. Even The New York 
Times got in the act, reporting, 
"These people speak the nearest to 
the Elizabethan English of any 
people anywhere in the United 

But the idea that the "pure" 
English of Queen Elizabeth's time 
lives on is only a romanticization, 
which often occurs in physically and 
socially isolated communities, 
Wolfram says. 

"That association stems from 
the fact that there are some reten- 
tions of older forms which may have 

just a pinch 

dugout; canoe 

been used in the 1600s and the 
1700s," such as "h'it's" and "a' 
goin'," he says. 

With documentable older forms 
of words, grammar patterns and 
pronunciations, people think English 
has been retained in its "pure" state. 

But language is always chang- 
ing. The dialect may keep some relic 
forms, but new words and patterns 
are added. Because it has the new, 
no one can say any dialect spoken 
today is the dialect of Old English, 
he explains. It's too far removed. 

"The only languages that are 
frozen like that are dead languages," 
Wolfram says. "So if you want that, 
go to Latin. This for sure ain't no 
dead language." 

His reasoning is not necessarily 
what islanders want to hear. 

"It's a myth that fits comfort- 
ably with the island ethos," he says. 
"And if you can do that, you can get 
prestige. You're looking for the 
language of Shakespeare, man. 

"It sounds good, and it adds to 
the island uniqueness," he adds. 
"But it'd be even better if it were 


The myth of the queen's 
language and many similar relic 
forms also live on just 20 miles 
southwest of Ocracoke in Carteret 

Only Pamlico Sound separates 
the barrier islands and this boot- 
shaped coastal county. Migration 
between the regions 200 years ago 
seems as likely as neighbors sharing 

The Ca'e Bankers, like Outer 
Bankers and Ocockers, exaggerate 
their "o's" and "i's" in words such 
as "house" and "high." They say 
"far" instead of "fire" and leave the 
"r's" on ends of words, too. 

But the Ca'e Banks brogue has 
its own sound, says Jim Willis of 
Atlantic Beach, and a separate 


No one knows for sure where 
the first settlers to Cape Lookout 
came from, but the first who could 
read and write arrived just before 
1700, according to Island Born and 
Bred. Whaling, trade and fishing 



thrived in such towns as Diamond 
City, Cedar Island, Harkers Island 
and Wade's Shore until the late 
1800s. Then two hurricanes in 1896 
and 1899 virtually wiped clean 
Diamond City, Shackleford Banks 
and much of the Cape Lookout area. 



Residents strapped what was 
left of their houses across two boats, 
called dories, and moved to the 
mainland, landing primarily in 
Marshallberg, Stacy, Broad Creek, 
Salter Path, Harkers Island and a 
section of Morehead City called "the 
Promised Land." They called it the 
Promised Land, Willis says, because 
someone on shore watching the 
exodus from the cape said, "There 
come the children of Israel bound 
for the Promised Land." 

With them, they brought their 
brogue. Over time, one dialect 
melted into several as each commu- 
nity developed its own variation. 

"Our brogue is kind of like a 
train with each word hooked 
together, and your language is like a 
bunch of cars going down a high- 
way," says Willis, a student of 
brogue since he was young. "So our 
word — the way we pronounce it — 

depends on what's ahead of it and 
what follows." 

That's why they drop the "p" 
from Ca'e Banks, so two consonant 
sounds won't clash. And the "t" 
from "jest" as in "jes' right." 

"It all depends on what's 
coming to make it flow smoothly," 
Willis says. 

Ca'e Bankers tend to drop the 
"en" from words such as "spoken" 
and "ly" from most adverbs. But 
they love contractions and Old 
English negatives, he adds. 

"Anywhere they can contract a 
word and make it smaller they will," 
Willis says. "Ain't," "hain't," 
"shan't" and "i'n't" are typical 
contractions Ca'e Bankers still use. 

For example, instead of saying, 
"I have not never been over there," 
"hain't" takes care of that, he 

That brings up another point. 

"We have a thing about nega- 
tives," says Willis, a retired chemist. 

Once, they were used in En- 
gland to emphasize or stress, he 
says. The more negatives you could 
pile in a sentence the better. 

"Always," Willis preaches, 
"you need to use at least a double 
negative. Triple is even better. 
Quadruple if you can do it. I don't 
usually use it, but my land, you'd be 
high society if you used quadruple 

Willis has studied most the 
dialects of the Salter Pathers and 
Promised Landers, the two most 
divergent of the Ca'e Banks brogue. 

"Now a Promised Lander is 
slow and uses stress: 'Ain't yoou 
ne-ver gon-na finish that?' Or T 
ain't a never goin' over there with 
her no more.' 

"Whereas a Salter Pather would 
say, T ain'tanever goinoverthere 
withher nomore.' Jest as fast as you 
can. And Salter Pathers don't move 

their lips hardly none ... . You can't 
hardly understand none of it." 

Either way is right, he contends. 
A brogue, like an opinion, should be 
taken at face value, not criticized for 
bad grammar or chastised as wrong, 
just savored like a bit of history on 


Much less is known today about 
the speech of the people farther 
south. Little research has been done 
in Wilmington. Only theories 

A port since the 1730s, the 
Wilmington area was the last part of 
the Carolina coast to be settled. The 
busy port attracted a large and wide 
mix of people. Men, women and 
children from England, Barbados, 
Ireland, Scotland and France came 
to a town north, called Brunswick- 
town, where the pines grew tall and 
tar ran thick. But the majority of the 
newcomers came from other English 
colonies and primarily coastal 
towns, says Harry Warren, a 
historian at the Cape Fear Museum 


in Wilmington. They came from 
Virginia and South Carolina, 
especially; Charleston, particularly. 


frying skillet with legs 

"It was a port,, and it was 
cosmopolitan, always has been," 
says Wilmington native Claude 
Howe, 77. 

Because the population varied 
so, and people constantly moved in 
and out, a strong dialect never had 
time to develop, some historians 

Or it may be because Wil- 
mington, first known as New 
Carthage, was settled so much later 
than other parts of the coast, Warren 
says. By the time people arrived at 
the port city, they had lost their 
strong verbal connection to the 
Mother Country or their homeland. 

A clear connection lingers, 
though, between Wilmington and 
southeast Virginia and northeast 
South Carolina. 

Most colonial trade from 
Wilmington was between large 
coastal cities, Howe says. People 
traveled the same routes, too. Today, 
the subtle dialect has more flavor of 
Charleston than that of northeastern 
North Carolina or the Piedmont. 

Retired Southport riverboat pilot 

Robert Thompson characterizes 
what he hears in Wilmington as 
"dry and flat." Someone else might 
call it "refined." 

Howe's mother, from southern 
Virginia, added a "y" in words 
such as "gyarden" and "cyanal," 
which can still be heard spoken by 
older Wilmington natives. She said 
"house," as in "host," instead of 
"howse," as well, Howe says. 


All along the Eastern Seaboard 
and into the Deep South, similari- 
ties and differences in dialects can 
be heard. But like a shout falling to 
a whisper, many of the old words 
and pronunciations are fading. 

Change — World War IT, the 
road from Kitty Hawk to Nags Head 
built in 1932, the bridge from 
Harkers Island to the mainland in 
1941 , and tourism — began the 
slow erosion of the speech once 
isolated by water on almost every 
side. Recently, radio and television 
may have had some effect. 

But, says Wolfram, "television 
doesn't make nearly the inroad that 
it's given credit or blame for. We 
get our language from the folks we 
interact with. We don't want to talk 
like people on television unless we 
want to pick up some cool words. 
We really want to talk like the 
people we hang out with." 

To help preserve the Ocockers' 
speech, he plans to contribute his 
research tapes to an island library, 
write a general-interest book on the 
dialect and teach a course on it at 
the Ocracoke School next spring. 

Other projects are under way 
to record the vocabulary and 
speech of communities such as 
Harkers Island and Morehead City. 

"It's at least very important, I 

believe, to recognize the people 
who speak that way and realize 
they will be no more in a few 
years," says Alton Ballance, author 
of Ocracokers and a native of the 
island. "That person's voice, if it 
doesn't get recorded, will never be 
heard again." 

But the dialects of North 
Carolina's coastal communities 
will survive, in person, on paper or 
on tape, Dough writes. 

"The speech of the Banks is a 
dynamic, thriving organism," he 
writes. "No matter how much of it 
is retained, no matter how many 
new terms are created locally or 
brought in by newcomers, the 
dialect ... will remain distinctive, 
for the Bankers — an independent, 
indomitable crew — will remain 
distinctive in the face of develop- 
ment just as they have done in the 
face of displacement, occupation 
and natural disaster for over three 



A Royal Royster with the Oyster 

Let us royster with the oyster — in the shorter days and moister, 
That are brought by brown September, with its roguish final R, 
For breakfast or for supper, on the under shell or upper, 
Of dishes he's the daisy, and of shellfish he's the star. 
We try him as they fry him, and even as they pie him; 
We partial to him luscious in a roast; 
We boil and broil him, we vinegar-and-oil him, 
And he is delicious stewed with toast. 
We eat him with tomatoes, and the salad with potatoes, 
Nor look him o'er with horror when he follows the coldslaw; 
And neither does he fret us if he marches after lettuce 
And abreast of cayenne pepper when his majesty is raw. 
So welcome with September to the knife and glowing ember, 
Juicy darling of our dainties, dispossessor of the clam! 
To the oyster, then, a hoister, with him a royal royster 
We shall whoop it through the land of heathen jam! 
Anonymous, The Detroit Free Press, Oct. 12, 1889 

I his poetic verse written more than a hundred 

years ago pays tribute to the delectable oyster. Obvi- 
ously, the author fancied these sweet but briny mol- 
lusks, no matter how they were cooked or when in the 
meal they were served. 

And the same can be said for many a man, woman 
and child in coastal North Carolina. When the breeze 
turns to the north, the leaves fall from the trees and the 
waterfowl are on the wing, it's time to light the fire for 
a good all-you-can-eat oyster roast. 

Many a family and community gathering has 
centered around the time-honored traditions of roasting 
or steaming oysters. Dipped in butter, splashed with 
lemon juice or dabbed in cocktail sauce, the oysters are 
consumed bushel after bushel. 

But for some, steaming the mollusks is a gastro- 
nomic sin that ranks alongside grilling a T-bone steak 
until it is well-done. They want 'em raw, savoring the 
briny liquor, the marshy aroma and the glib way the 
plump oysters slide down the back of the throat. 

Raw oysters have another appeal — sex appeal. 
For centuries, these raw mollusks were the equiva- 
lent of virility on the half shell. 

Louis XTV was said to consume a hundred or 
so at one sitting. Casanova reputedly ate 50 or more 
every evening. And Byron's Don Juan attributed 
some of his success with the ladies to this amatory 

Unfortunately, this aphrodisiacal attribute of 
the oyster is mythical. 

Perhaps people assumed that the oyster's own 
fruitfulness could be transferred to those who ate it. 
After all, one oyster is capable of producing about 
500 million eggs in a single spawning season. 

Another possibility may be the mollusk's 
cholesterol level. At one time, oysters were labeled 
high in cholesterol. Since cholesterol is a basic 
building block for male and female hormones, 
some thought that oysters boosted their bedroom 


Now, scientists know that oysters are not high 
in cholesterol, and we realize that cholesterol 
intake does not stimulate sexual prowess. 

A lack of bedroom benefits isn't enough to 
turn raw oyster lovers away from their favorite 
food. But another problem is. Contamination. 

Because oysters can be contaminated by 
bacteria and viruses, naturally occurring toxins or 
chemical and industrial pollutants, consumers eat 
raw oysters at their own risk, says Joyce Taylor, 
Sea Grant's seafood education agent. 

Oysters are filter feeders. They filter massive 
quantities of water, as much as 25 gallons per day, 
through their bodies to extract their meals — 
one-celled plants known as diatoms. If the water 
they filter carries a gastrointestinal virus or the 
potentially deadly pathogenic bacteria Vibrio 
vulnificus, then the mollusks collect these contami- 
nants, making their raw appeal risky. 

Taylor cautions people against eating raw 
oysters, especially if the person has an underlying 
disease that might impair the immune system. But 
properly cooked to a temperature of 145 F, oysters 
are a safe bet for any dinner table. 

Even in the months without an "r" in their 
name, you ask? 

Yes, Taylor says. Toss out that adage about 
eating oysters only from September to April — the 
months with an "r." 

The origin of this myth has two possible 
explanations. Oysters are highly perishable, and 
before refrigeration, they would spoil quickly 
during warm summer months — those without 
an "r." 

Also, from May to September, oysters spawn, 
becoming more watery and less flavorful, unlike 
the plump mollusks harvested in the fall and 

If oysters have a place on your fall menu, be it 
oyster stew or oyster stuffing, be choosy when 
selecting these mollusks, Taylor says. Oysters in 
the shell should be alive. Shells should be closed 
or should close tightly when tapped. 

Hold live oysters between 35 F and 45 F until 
cooking, and limit the holding time to two to three 
days. Discard any oysters that die. 

To shuck live oysters, purchase a sharp 
shucking knife and a pair of rubber gloves to 
protect your hands. Holding the oyster in the palm 
of a gloved hand, use your other hand to insert the 
knife between the hps of the oyster near the hinge. 

Then slide the knife around the oyster until you cut the 
muscle that holds the shell shut. 

Voila. Out slides a plump, juicy oyster. 

It's best to shuck the oysters over a colander to 
sieve out pieces of broken shell and to collect every 
drop of the briny liquor. 

If shucking sounds like too dangerous a dinner 
sport, buy your oysters already shucked in containers at 
the grocer. 

Shucked oysters should be plump with a natural 
creamy color and clear or slightly opalescent liquid. 
They should not contain more than 10 percent liquid 
and should have a mild odor. 

And oysters occasionally have a slight coloration 
— red, pink, green or mottled. These colors are harm- 
less, usually associated with the oyster's diet. The red 
color disappears when the oyster is cooked. Do beware, 
however, of any pink color accompanied by a sour 
odor. This is caused by a spoilage yeast, and the oysters 
should not be eaten. 

Otherwise, oysters can be eaten to your heart's 
content and health. The mollusks are high in protein, 
minerals and vitamins, and low in cholesterol, calories 
and fat. Easily digested, oysters are often recommended 
for special diets, Taylor says. 

And despite the emphasis on eating the mollusks 
raw or steamed, there are countless ways to cook an 
oyster. Taylor and the NCSU Seafood Laboratory's 
Health, Food and Nutrition Leaders have developed the 
following smorgasbord of oyster recipes. 


Pure oyster flavor is what you' 11 have when 
you cook this rich soup. No milk or other ingredient 
dilutes the flavor. Only green onions and fresh parsley 
enhance the oyster taste and render the soup attractive. 

2 pints standard oysters with liquor 
6 tablespoons margarine 

4 tablespoons flour 

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion tops 

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley 
1 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper 

Strain oyster liquor into a medium saucepan. Chop 
oysters coarsely. Heat liquor over medium heat, add 
chopped oysters and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove 
oysters and reserve. Add hot water to the liquor to make 

5 CU P S - Continued 

Melt margarine in large saucepan over medium 
heat. Add flour gradually, stirring constantly until 
smooth. Gradually add the hot liquid, whisking con- 
stantly, and cook until smooth. Add onions, parsley, 
salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add reserved 
oysters and heat thoroughly. Serve immediately. 
Serves 8. 


This stuffing can make a delicious addition to your 
holiday meals. It hearkens to the days when oysters 
were a traditional part of holiday fare in coastal homes. 

1 pint standard oysters 
1/2 cup margarine 

1 pound coarsely chopped fresh mushrooms 
1 1/2 cups chopped celery, including leaves 

1 cup chopped onion 

2 cups toasted bread cubes 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning 

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

2 eggs, beaten 

Drain oysters. Melt margarine in large skillet over 
medium heat. Saute mushrooms, celery and onion until 
tender. Place in large bowl. Stir in bread cubes, parsley, 
salt and poultry seasoning. Add eggs and oysters and 
mix thoroughly. Place in well-greased baking dish. Bake 
at 350 F for 20 minutes or until done in center and 
lightly browned. Makes about 6 cups. 


This delightful oyster casserole makes an easy 
addition to a family meal or an elegant entree for 

1 pint standard oysters 

2 1/2 cups crushed saltines 

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions 

freshly ground black pepper 

2 tablespoons margarine 

1/2 cup heavy cream 

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 

1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce 

1/4 cup dry white wine 

Drain oysters, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. Place 
one-fourth of the saltines in well-greased small 
casserole. Cover with one-third of the oysters, and 
sprinkle with one-third of the onions. Sprinkle 
with salt, pepper and paprika; dot with margarine. 
Repeat layers twice, then sprinkle remaining 
saltines. Dot with margarine. Combine reserved 
oyster liquor with cream, Worcestershire, Tabasco 
and wine; pour over casserole. Bake at 400 F for 
30 minutes. Serves 6. 


The original version of this recipe was 
developed in Antoine's, a famous New Orleans 
eatery. Four generations of the family of Antoine 
Alciatore have kept the recipe for this now legend- 
ary dish secret. However, this version is sure to 
delight your taste buds. 

24 oysters on the half shell 

6 tablespoons margarine 

6 tablespoons frozen chopped spinach, 

3 teaspoons minced onion 
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes 
3 tablespoons minced celery 
1/8 teaspoon fennel seed, ground 
1/8 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves 
1/8 teaspoon dried chervil leaves 
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs 
rock salt 

Combine margarine, spinach, onion and 
seasonings. Simmer 15 minutes. Puree in blender. 

Spread layer of rock salt in baking pan. Place 
deep halves of oyster shells level on rock salt. 
Place oyster in each. Spread spinach mixture over 
each oyster. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Broil 4 
to 5 inches from heat for 8 minutes or until desired 
doneness. Serves 4. 



This rich mixture of flavorful shellfish can take 
center stage at your next sit-down dinner or buffet. 

2 dozen small oysters, liquor reserved 
1 pound backfin crab meat 

1 tablespoon cornstarch 
1/2 cup heavy cream 

2 eggs 

2 eggs, separated 

2 tablespoons margarine 

1 tablespoon minced green onion 
1/4 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce 
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley 
1 teaspoon dried tarragon 
3/4 cup flour 

3 cups fresh bread crumbs 
vegetable oil 

Poach oysters in their liquor in small saucepan 
over medium heat until curled, about 5 minutes. 
Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

Mix cornstarch into cream in small bowl; 
blend in egg yolks. Melt margarine in heavy large 
skillet over low heat. Add green onion, cover and 
cook until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occa- 
sionally. Mix in crab meat, salt, pepper and 
Tabasco. Stir in cream mixture. Increase heat to 
medium and bring to boil. Blend in parsley and 
tarragon. Cool, then cover and refrigerate until 
well chilled. 

Measure 1 1/2 tablespoons crab meat mixture 
into palm. Press to form well in center. Place one 
oyster in well. Top with additional crab meat 
mixture and press into oval shape, covering oyster. 
Set on large waxed paper-lined plate. Repeat with 
remaining crab meat and oysters. Place in freezer 
until fritters are firm but not frozen, about 20 

Place flour, eggs and egg whites, and bread 
crumbs in separate bowls; beat eggs and egg 
whites to blend. Dip fritters in flour, then egg. Roll 
in crumbs, coating thoroughly. Return to plate. 
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. 

Heat oil in large saucepan or deep fryer to 350 F. 
Add fritters to oil in batches and fry, turning once, 
until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on 
paper towels. Serve immediately. Serves 6. 


This recipe offers an unusual combination — 
tomato paste and oysters. Nonetheless, it provides an 
elegant luncheon or dinner addition. 

1 pint oysters, undrained 

2 tablespoons margarine 

2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 clove garlic, pressed 
1/2 cup chopped onion 

3 tablespoons tomato paste 
1 1/2 cups hot water 

1/2 cup dry white wine 
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
1/4 teaspoon salt 

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

1 teaspoon sugar 

6 slices French bread 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 

Melt margarine in medium skillet over medium 
heat. Add olive oil and heat thoroughly. Add garlic 
and onion and cook until tender. Blend in tomato 
paste. Add water and wine. Stir well. Add oregano, 
salt, pepper and sugar. Stir to blend and bring to 

Toast bread. Spread lightly with margarine. Cut 
into points and keep warm. 

Add oysters, together with their juice, to skillet. 
Baste several times with sauce, and cook until oysters 
reach desired doneness. Place pieces of toast on 
individual heated plates. Place oysters and sauce on 
individual pieces of toast. Sprinkle tops with parsley. 
Serves 6. E 

Kathy Hart 

d f t deck 

Digital Mapping to 
Benefit Brunswick 

When Hurricane Hugo brushed 
southeastern North Carolina in Sep- 
tember 1989, high winds and water 
bruised Brunswick County's 
year-round homes and businesses to 
the rune of $2.5 million, according to 
the state's Division of Emergency 
Management. Injury to beaches, 
roads and public structures was up- 
ward of $72 million. 

So when the Federal Emergency 
Management Agency provided 
money to assuage part of the damage 
on the coast and inland areas such as 
Charlotte, it reserved a percentage of 
the funds to brace for the future. This 
standard FEMA procedure is known 
as hazard mitigation. 

"Rather than just use the disaster 
relief money to pick up the pieces, 
the mitigation grants are used to re- 
duce the damage next time," says 
Spencer Rogers, Sea Grant's coastal 
engineering specialist. 

A $328,000 federal grant — 
matched equally by N.C. State Uni- 
versity and its benefactors — will be 
used to map vulnerable areas along 
such beaches as Long and Sunset 
and to keep future damage to a mini- 

NCSU civil engineering profes- 
sors John Fisher and Margery 
Overton will use existing aerial pho- 
tographs to produce digital maps of 
erosion-prone areas. 

"This project will seek to 
develop new techniques using 
state-of-the-art computer mapping 
systems to identify the most threat- 
ened stretches of ocean shoreline in 
Brunswick County," says Fisher, 
adding that the models could be ap- 
plied in other areas of North Carolina 
in the future. 

This small-scale pilot study 
could help target safe evacuation 

routes for the county, identify at-risk 
structures and provide local planners 
with information regarding shoreline 
erosion rates, dune elevations and 
flood-prone areas. 

Work on the project began this 
fall and should take three years to 

Underwater Dinosaurs 

Treat yourself, your family or 
your students to an unforgettable "un- 
dersea" adventure at the N.C. State 
Fair, Oct. 15-24. Drop by Dinama- 
tion's Sea Creatures, Dinosaurs of 
the Deep, an exhibit sponsored by the 
N.C. State Museum of Natural Sci- 
ences and the Friends of the Museum. 

Encounter lifelike animated crea- 
tures that inhabited our oceans mil- 
lions of years ago. 

Shudder at the Kronosaurus, a 
ferocious marine reptile with a huge 
head, short neck and immense jaws as 
much as 9 feet long that were equip- 
ped with 80 sharp 9-inch teeth. 

Gasp at the Basilosaurus, a 

slender-bodied, lizardlike marine 
mammal that measured between 40 
and 80 feet long. 

Gawk at the armor-plated 5-ton 
Dunkleosteus, a savage-looking fish 
with cleaverlike projections that jut- 
ted from its powerful jaws, enabling it 
to crush and slice its prey. 

And after visiting these amazing 
creatures, be sure to allow time for 
the "Discovery Tent." Hands-on 
learning stations offered in the tent 
will reinforce and supplement infor- 
mation presented in the exhibit area. 

Activities will include a fossil 
dig, crayon rubbings of prehistoric 
animals and several water-based in- 
teractive displays that encourage dis- 
covery of what it means to live in wa- 

Admission to the exhibit is $3 
and is not included in the general fair 
admission cost. School groups can 
purchase advance tickets for $2, and 
teachers should reserve a scheduled 
time slot for visiting the exhibit. To 
purchase advance tickets and sched- 
ule a time slot, call the Friends office 
at 919/733-7450. 

Sea Grant Agent 
Outstanding in Field 

Sea Grant Marine Advisory Ser- 
vice Agent Bob Hines was selected as 
a 1993 recipient of N.C. State Univer- 
sity's Outstanding Extension Service 
Award. Each year, the Chancellor's 
Office bestows the honor on six to 
eight employees who serve the uni- 
versity in extension roles. 

Hines, an agent for 14 years in 
the Pine Knoll Shores office, has 
responsibilites in fisheries in a 
five-county area of central coastal 
North Carolina. Hines has built a rap- 
port with local commercial fisher- 
men, an independent group that is of- 
ten shy of government agencies. Most 
recently, Hines has worked exten- 


sively with shrimpers to tackle the 
problem of bycatch of nontargeted 
species. He has helped introduce the 
skimmer trawl, a type of gear that 
has proven to minimize bycatch, into 
North Carolina estuaries. 

Hines' extension work over the 
years has also led to advances in 
closed recirculating crab shedding 
operations, the use of pound nets in 
shrimping and peeler crabbing, float- 
ing pound nets and other bycatch re- 
duction devices. 

Sea Grant extension agents have 
been consistent winners in the com- 
petition for Outstanding Extension 
Service Awards. 

Kudos to Coastwatch 

Coastwatch and its staff recently 
won a Grand Award in the APEX 
'93 Publication Excellence Competi- 
tion sponsored by the editors at 
Communications Concepts, publish- 
ers of Communications Manager 
and Writing Concepts. 

Coastwatch was one of four 
Grand Award winners in the maga- 
zine and journal category, which at- 
tracted 427 entries. The award was 
based on excellence in graphic de- 
sign, editorial content and the suc- 
cess of the entry in achieving overall 
communications effectiveness and 

Judges for the competition were 
Bill Londino, Concepts editor and 
publisher; Nancy Rathburn, Commu- 
nications Manager managing editor; 
and Paul Fisher, a former professor 
at the University of Missouri School 
of Journalism. 

Entries in the fifth annual 
awards were very competitive, ac- 
cording to Concepts competition or- 

"The overall quality of entries 
was excellent, arguably the best ever 
in an APEX competition. From 
them, they selected the award- 
winning entries." 

Also, Sea Grant publication 
Shoreline Erosion Control Using 
Marsh Vegetation and Low-Cost 
Structures won an Award of Excel- 
lence in the instructional and educa- 
tional manual category. University of 
North Carolina Sea Grant College 
Program, Building a Better Tomor- 
row for the Coast won in the bro- 
chure category. 

Limited Entry 
Workshops Continue 

Sea Grant researchers Mike 
Orbach of Duke University and Jeff 
Johnson of East Carolina University 
are learning what commercial fisher- 
men have to say about a management 
strategy called limited entry fishing. 
Under this strategy, specific fishing 
privileges are assigned to specific 
fishermen or vessels. It's a manage- 
ment plan already in use in other 
states and other countries. 

But what do Tar Heel fishermen 
think about using the strategy here, 
and how do they think it should 
work? Orbach and Johnson want to 
get fishermen's opinions firsthand, so 
they planned three rounds of work- 
shops along the coast during the late 
summer and fall. 

The workshops are designed to 
allow fishermen to participate "from 
the ground up" in discussions of pos- 
sible management options. Now, lim- 
ited entry is only a possibility for the 
future, but it could become a reality. 
That's why it's important for fisher- 
men to speak out at these workshops. 

The first two rounds of work- 
shops have already been held, but the 
third is yet to come. Orbach and 
Johnson hope fishermen will mark 
their calendars and plan to come, re- 
gardless of whether they have at- 
tended any of the earlier workshops. 

Below is a listing of the dates for 
the third round of workshops. All of 
them begin at 7 p.m. and last until 
every fisherman is heard. 

• Nov. 30 — Pamlico County 

• Dec. 1 — New Hanover County 
Cooperative Extension Service 

• Dec. 2 — Smyrna Elementary 

• Dec. 7 — Beaufort County 
Community College 

• Dec. 8 — N.C. Aquarium in 

• Dec. 9 — Hatteras Civic Center 
If you would like more informa- 
tion about the research or workshops, 
contact: Mike Orbach, Duke Univer- 
sity Marine Laboratory, Pivers Island, 
Beaufort, NC 28516, 919/728-21 11. 
Or call the Sea Grant Marine Advi- 
sory Service office nearest you: Ra- 
leigh, 919/515-2454; Fort Fisher, 919/ 
458-5498; Bogue Banks, 919/ 
247-4007; and Manteo, 919/ 

Murray Earns Ph.D. 

As director of Sea Grant's Marine 
Advisory Service, Jim Murray spends 
most days embroiled in resource man- 
agement and policy issues. 

The job requires more than a 
grounding in marine biology, he says. 
Marine resources are an increasingly 
valuable commodity in North Caro- 
lina. Murray has responded to the job 
demands by earning a Ph.D. in re- 
source management from the School 
of Forestry at N.C. State University. 
Murray assessed the policy and man- 
agement of artificial reef programs in 
his doctoral thesis, and he tailored his 
degree for an emphasis on marine re- 
sources management. 

Providing guidance in his pro- 
gram were co-major professors David 
Adams, department of forestry, and 
Arthur Cooper, head of the depart- 
ment of forestry. Murray has held his 
post at UNC Sea Grant for 1 1 years. 
Before that, he was MAS director of 
the New Jersey Marine Sciences 


Coastal commentary 

Nutrients in Our Coastal Waters: 
Too Muck off a Good Thing? 

Eating and excreting are an un- 
avoidable part of our daily lives. 

We take these activities for 
granted, but the resulting nutrient load- 
ing into our rivers and estuaries is un- 
questionable and far-reaching. As the 
population of North Carolina contin- 
ues to grow, so too will the damaging 
levels of nutrients we are introducing 
into our waters. Unfortunately, this 
growth is outpacing the ability of regu- 
lations to protect water quality and 
technology to remove wastewater nu- 

But nutrients, in and of them- 
selves, are not harmful. They are a vi- 
tal component in natural coastal pro- 
cesses. The problem is that we are 
overloading the system, and now sci- 
entists are investigating the environ- 
mental repercussions. Perhaps the 
most compelling research is under way 
in the laboratory of JoAnn Burkholder, 
who is examining the link between 
high levels of phosphorus and out- 
breaks of a newly discovered toxic 
dinoflagellate. Burkholder is a Sea 
Grant researcher and assistant profes- 
sor of botany at N.C. State University. 

Food for Thought 

The food we eat and the clothes 
we wear don't originate in the stores. 
North Carolina and the United States 
are checkered with agricultural and 
animal farming operations that provide 
the bulk of the food we serve on our 
tables. Farmers must fertilize their 
crops with nutrients, primarily nitro- 
gen and phosphorus, for profitable 
production. These nutrients are essen- 
tial for plant growth. But the nutrients 
applied aren't always used, depending 
on growth rates and weather condi- 
tions. When it rains, excess nutrients 
may wash into nearby waters or seep 
into the ground where they accumu- 

late, degrade or migrate into ground- 
water. Nutrient-rich groundwater can 
then filter into nearby surface waters. 

Wandering Waste 

Nutrients are also in animal and 
human wastes. 

Animal waste can be washed by 
rain into nearby surface waters from 
livestock confinement or feed lots. 

Human waste or sewage is col- 
lected and treated. In North Carolina, 
most wastewater is treated by septic 
tanks or municipal wastewater treat- 
ment plants that do not completely re- 
move nutrients. These nutrients then 
meander into our coastal waters, where 
even low levels can be damaging. Sep- 
tic tanks, for instance, can discharge 
nutrients into nearby coastal waters 
through the movement of groundwater. 
Most municipal wastewater treatment 
plants release nutrient-laden effluent 
directly into surface waters after treat- 
ment. And some industries, such as 
food processors, discharge nutrients 
into surface waters. A few municipal 
facilities try another tack: they treat 
their waste less extensively and apply 
it to large areas of land. If sited and 
operated properly, land application can 
minimize the release of treated effluent 
into coastal waters. 

In Coastal Waters 

Once in our coastal waters, these 
nutrients travel various paths. They can 
be used by aquatic plants, remain dis- 
solved in the water column or settle to 
the bottom where they are stored in the 
sediments. All of this can cause eu- 
trophication, which is, among other 
things, the excessive growth of algae. 
During the day, algae produce oxygen 
by photosynthesizing; at night, they 
respire and consume oxygen. Decom- 
position of the algae also consumes 
large quantities of dissolved oxygen. 

So large algal blooms can seriously de- 
plete coastal waters of oxygen that is 
life-essential to aquatic organisms, es- 
pecially fish. Eutrophication, however, 
is not the only way excess nutrients 
harm aquatic life. Burkholder and other 
scientists are investigating the link be- 
tween the frequency of toxic phyto- 
plankton outbreaks and the increased 
level of nutrients in our coastal waters. 
Toxic algae sometimes rob the water of 
oxygen, but they can affect aquatic life 
and humans in other ways, even caus- 
ing death. 

Progress Against Pollution 

North Carolina has made signifi- 
cant reductions in point source dis- 
charges of nutrients from wastewater 
treatment plants and industries since 
1975, when it was delegated the au- 
thority of the National Pollution Dis- 
charge Elimination System program by 
the U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency. As a result, the state deter- 
mines when, how much and where 
wastewater can be discharged, using 
federal standards. 

In addition, the state's 1988 ban on 
phosphate detergents has significantly 
reduced phosphorus inputs. Today, our 
largest contributor of nutrients is agri- 
culture, which is considered a nonpoint 
source of pollution. The EPA and N.C. 
Department of Environment, Health 
and Natural Resources are moving to- 
ward new regulatory strategies that will 
reduce nonpoint source nutrients in our 
surface waters. 

But still unmeasured is the contri- 
bution of nitrogen from air pollution in 
North Carolina's coastal waters. Nitro- 
gen from automobiles or smokestacks 
can land directly on the water or accu- 
mulate in rainfall. 

Barbara Doll, Sea Grant 
Coastal Water Quality Specialist 



Wild Shores and Wild Places 

"George Washington 
Slipped Here ..." 

If you answer to the call of the 
wild, you'll want a copy of Wild 
Shores for the journey. 

Author Walter K. Taylor has 
scouted the wet and wild places of 
North Carolina's coastal plain by 
horse, motorcycle, canoe and foot. 
Along the way he's gathered more 
than enough snake stories — the cot- 
tonmouth is the star of these viper 
vignettes — and invaluable tips on 
camping (primitive and pampered), 
hunting, fishing, hiking and 
nature-ogling, from Mackay Island 
to Portsmouth to Green Swamp. 

The Washington native takes 
readers along the banks of Potecasi 
Creek with a Meherrin Indian chief, 
gathering medicinal plants and shak- 
ing the fruits from this Chowan 
tributary's wild grape vines. He 
stops to sip the juniper-steeped wa- 
ters of the Dismal Swamp Canal 
and nets spring runs of Roanoke 
river herring. 

He even includes a few stories 
you didn't know you needed to 
know. Like how the beauty of 
Ocracoke distracted poet Robert 
Frost from his plans of suicide in the 
macabre Dismal Swamp. Or where 
George Washington reportedly 
slipped into — and subsequently 
named — the swamp's Deep Creek. 

He explores Cedar Island on a 
quarter horse and advises readers 
how they can do the same. He tells 
where to spy eagles and hooded 
mergansers, rare dwarf trillium and 
wild camellias, and virgin stands of 
cypress and juniper. 

Taylor also shares his pick for 
the best day hike along the Outer 
Banks and reminds potential camp- 
ers to bring mosquito netting and 

extra-long sand pegs to anchor tents on 
Bodie Island. He advises what levels 
of wilderness expertise are necessary 
for which expeditions — be it a foray 
in the Enchanted Forest of Merchants 
Millpond or a plunge down the rapids 
of the Roanoke River. 

Anne Marshall Runyon 

Wild Shores is no trendy vacation 
guide or coffee-table piece. The 
159-page manual is illustrated best by 
the writer's anecdotes and practical in- 
formation about exploring the state's 
coastal parks and natural playgrounds, 
accented by local lore and legend and 
current information about coastal com- 
munities. Taylor divides the coast into 
eight sections; each chapter features 
reference lists of addresses and phone 

The book is $13.95. Check with 
your local bookstore or the publisher: 
Down Home Press, P.O. Box 4126, 
Asheboro, NC 27204 (919/672-6889). 

Homing in on Habitat 

The primary audience for North 
Carolina WILD Places: A Closer Look 
is schoolteachers and other educators 
who participate in the N.C. Wildlife 
Resources Commission's conservation 
education workshops. But individual 
students of nature will also appreciate 
this beautifully illustrated guide to 13 
of the state's major habitats. 

From mountain cove forests and 
beaver ponds to salt marshes and mari- 
time forests, this 82-page guide focuses 
on plant and animal communities and 
their dynamics, natural histories and 
importance, and the forces that threaten 
them. The sections also list public areas 
where visitors can explore examples of 
the respective habitats. 

The book, which was published by 
the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commis- 
sion's Division of Conservation Educa- 
tion, features detailed drawings by 
Anne Marshall Runyon, including sev- 
eral in color, and other illustrations by 
Jim Brown. The text was written by 
various naturalists and journalists. 

"WILD Places represents the only 
concise descriptions and illustrations of 
some of the diverse ecosystems found 
in North Carolina," says Sea Grant 
Marine Education Specialist Lundie 
Spence, who authored a section on 
ocean hardbottoms. 

"It's a real important educational 
tool for teachers, 4-H groups, Scouts 
and museums," says Spence. "Families 
who want to introduce themselves and 
their children to North Carolina's natu- 
ral habitats will also find this book 
very useful." 

WILD Places is $10. Copies are 
available from the N.C. Wildlife Re- 
sources Commission, Division of 
Conservation Education, 512 N. 
Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC 27604-1188 



Coastwatch Staff: 

Kathy Hart, Managing Editor 
Jeannie Faris and Carta B. Burgess, 

Staff Writers and Editors 
L. Noble, Designer 
Debra Lynch, Circulation Manager 

The North Carolina Sea Grant College 
Program is a federal/state program 
that promotes the wise use of our 
coastal and marine resources through 
research, extension and education. It 
joined the National Sea Grant College 
Network in 1970 as an institutional 
program. Six years later, it was desig- 
nated a Sea Grant College. Today, N.C. 
Sea Grant supports several research 
projects, a 12-member extension pro- 
gram and three communicators. B.J. 
Copeland is director. The program is 
funded by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce's National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration and the 
state through the University of North 

Coastwatch (ISSN 1068-784X) is pub- 
lished bimonthly, six times a year, for 
$12 by the North Carolina Sea Grant 
College Program, N.C. State Univer- 
sity, Raleigh, NC 27695-8605. Tele- 
phone: 919/515-2454. Fax: 919/515- 
7095. Second-Class Postage paid at 
Raleigh, N.C. 

POSTMASTER: Send address changes 
to Coastwatch, N.C. Sea Grant, Box 
8605, N.C. State University, Raleigh, 
NC 27695-8605. 

Front cover photo of Fort Macon by 
Scott D. Taylor. 

Inside front cover photo of Newport 
River estuary by Scott D. Taylor. 

Printed on recycled paper 

by Highland Press Inc. in f\ 

Fayetteville, N.C. mW 

table of contents 



D EC 13 1 9 93 


Page 2 

Page i 

Page 12 

Page 21 


Off the Beaten Path: A Trek Through 
the Alligator River Refuge 

Home to wolves, gators and red-cockaded woodpeckers, 
Alligator River is a wilderness worth witnessing. Access 
isn't easy, but writer Alison Davis braves the mosquitoes, 
yellow flies and head-high gallberry bushes to profile this 
ambitious national wildlife haven that thrives on a modest 
budget 2 

Coaxing the Red Wolf 
from the Brink of Extinction 

Shunned in other parts of the country, endangered red 
wolves have found safe haven on an eastern North Carolina 
wetland. Six years ago, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials 
released the first pair of red wolves on the Alligator River 
National Wildlife Refuge. But writer Alison Davis has 
found that the campaign to restore Canis rufus has been 
arduous. Though Dare Countians have been hospitable 
on the whole, the wolves worry some landowners and 
developers 8 

A Five-Sided Fortress 

Lures History-Hungry Visitors 

History and unique architecture lure visitors to Fort 
Macon like bluefish to a chunk of salt mullet. The 
casemate fortress of five sides and 9 million bricks is North 
Carolina's most visited state park, hooking 1.4 million 
tourists each year. Former Coastwatch writer C.R. Edgerton 
chronicles the legend of this Civil War bulwark, which 
fell to the Union in April 1862 12 


Marine Advice 

Letting By catch Out of the Bag 19 

Young Mariners 

Sea Which 20 

Back Talk 21 

Aft Deck 22 

Coastal Commentary 

Fishing for a Saltwater License 24 

Bookstore 25 




i mmp we 
River Refw/e 

By Alison Davis 

EAST LAKE — For most of us, 
Dare County means many things. 
Beaches and seafood. Graveyard of 
the Atlantic. Kitty Hawk. Deep-sea 
fishing. The Lost Colony. 

But there is another Dare County 
— a lesser-known, wilder place 
between a river and two sounds. 

To reach this other world, take 
Buffalo City Road across from the 
East Lake landfill. Head south, past 
Tull's hunting shack, along the 
glassy, black canals toward Sawyer 

At first the road may seem 
empty; the quiet, overwhelming. But 
if you sit for a while, you will hear 
the noises. The incessant hum of 
mosquitoes. The flutter of green and 
blue dragonflies. Songbirds. 

Look around. You may see 
snakes, rabbits or a barred owl leav- 
ing the dirt road for a flight into the 

If you want to see more, you will 
have to work for it, paddling a canoe 
or kayak along the black waters of 



Mill Tail Creek or braving the mos- 
quitoes and the yellow flies to hike 
deep into the woods. 

There, you may glimpse deer, 
wood ducks, raccoons or perhaps an 
alligator or two. And if 
you're lucky, you just might 
see a black bear or maybe, 
some local residents say, 
the shadowy figure of the 
eastern cougar, thought to 
be extinct. 

These are just some of 
the wild things on the nearly 
150,000 acres of dense, 
forested wetland that is the 
Alligator River National 
Wildlife Refuge. 

Lying just a dozen or so 
miles west of the motels and 
beach houses at Nags Head, 
the Alligator River refuge is 
a wild, tangled place, criss- 
crossed by drainage ditches 
and nearly impassable dirt 
roads. Access is difficult 
without boats or four-wheel 
drive vehicles. 

This remoteness is 
exactly what makes the 
wetland a good home for 
wildlife. And its wildness 
lures people to visit. 

"It's a very, very wild 
area," says Manteo resident 
and refuge fan Ken Dyar. 
"Very primitive. And very 

The Alligator River 
refuge was created in 1984, 
when The Nature Conservancy ac- 
quired 1 20,000 acres of land from 
First Colony Farms, an agribusiness 
consortium, and donated it to the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

The land is one of the last large 
pocosin tracts in North Carolina. 
Aside from the Department of 
Defense's Dare County bombing 
range, the refuge today covers an 
entire peninsula, bordered by the 

Alligator River to the west, the 
Albemarle Sound to the north and the 
Pamlico Sound to the east. 

Since its creation, the Alligator 
River refuge has gained recognition 

lyk) just a dozen or so miles west oj 
the motels and beach houses at 
Head, the Alligator River refuge 
is a wild, tangled place, 
crisscrossed hy drainage ditches and 
nearly impassable dirt roads. 
Access is difficult without boats 
or jour-wheel drive vehicles. 
This remoteness is exactly what makes 
the wetland a good homejor wildlife. 
And its wildness lures people to visit. 

through a landmark experiment to 
restore the endangered red wolf to part 
of its original range. 

But the Fish and Wildlife Service, 
which runs the refuge, is working on 
a lot more. It has projects to track the 
American alligator. Dare County is 
the alligator's northernmost range. 
And it supports work to help the en- 
dangered red-cockaded woodpecker 
survive. A graduate student is taking 

an intensive bear census that could 
help officials determine whether 
bears could be hunted on refuge 
lands. Fish and Wildlife officials 
are exploring a project with the 
Defense Department to 
restore Atlantic white cedar 
in the area. And biologists 
are experimenting with 
growing natural food for 

Yet Fish and Wild- 
life's biggest goal at 
Alligator River doesn't 
single out a specific bird 
or animal. In what would 
seem to be an overwhelm- 
ing task, the agency is 
attempting to restore 19th- 
century water balances to 
the pocosin. 

Since the turn of the 
century, this wetland has 
been crisscrossed by log- 
ging roads and firebreaks 
and sliced by ditches and 
canals — all tools used to 
prepare the land for food 
crops or for tree harvesting. 

The tools worked, but 
not without negative ef- 
fects. Surface water levels 
dropped, making the poco- 
sin less hospitable to some 
wildlife, most notably the 
wood duck, which needs 
shallow flooded areas to 
breed. Rainwater raced into 
the sounds in great acidic 
slugs rather than filtering 
slowly through the swamp. Drier 
soils meant that fire — a natural part 
of the pocosin ecosystem that is nec- 
essary for perpetuating some plants 
and creating food for wildlife — 
became a greater danger. 

Still, the changes didn't alter the 
essential nature of the area, says 
Bob Noffsinger, deputy manager for 
Alligator River and its subrefuge, 
the Pea Island National Wildlife 


Refuge on Hatteras Island. 

"It changed the water levels 
over there on the swamps, but it 
didn't really convert them from for- 
ested wetlands," Noffsinger says. 

To restore Alligator 
River to its original pocosin 
state, or as near to that as 
possible, Fish and Wildlife 
plans to raise the water 
table. To do so, workers are 
building a series of water 
blockades known as flash- 
board risers, installing large 
pieces of metal culvert pipe 
and blocking water flow 
with 2-by-6 planks at the 
level of the swamp floor. 

The water levels never 
will be exactly what they 
were before buildings, 
agriculture and roads, 
Noffsinger says. But if the 
agency is successful, the 
water-level changes should 
benefit much of the wildlife 
on the refuge, from raccoon 
to waterfowl, he says. 
Waterfowl populations have 
dropped in recent years, 
primarily because of a lack 
of breeding area in the 
Northeast, Noffsinger says. 
Refuge managers are ex- 
perimenting with ways to 
draw waterfowl back. They 
are using pumps, which 
once drained farmland, to 
seasonally flood and dry the 
area. Birds will be attracted 
to food that grows there. 

Five years ago, workers counted 
just 200 wood ducks at Alligator 
River, Noffsinger says. By 1990, 
they counted 30,000 ducks. 

"To me," Noffsinger says, "that 
is a real success that we've achieved 
so far." 

But what hasn't happened at 
Alligator River is the creation of 
easy access for the public. 

Ask for refuge information at the 
Dare County visitors' center and 
you'll get a brochure on Pea Island, 
but nothing on Alligator River, save a 
warning about snakes — or simply a 

Scoti D- Taylor 

statement that the refuge isn't open to 

That's not quite true; people are 
allowed on parts of the refuge — on 
Buffalo City Road, the canoe trails 
and soon on foot trails the service is 

Volunteers and refuge staff lead 
educational programs in the commu- 
nity and occasionally lead groups of 
visitors onto the refuge for special 

outings, such as nighttime howling at 
the wolves. 

But access is limited. There are 
several reasons, not the least of 
which is the refuge's annual budget 
($250,000 for Alligator 
River and Pea Island 

The pocosin itself isn't 
j& visitor friendly. Head-high 
■ gallberry, for example, 
doesn't naturally create 
areas for easy hiking. 

And then there is the 
purpose of the refuge 
itself. This is not, after all, 
a national park. 

"The primary goals of 
the refuge are for wildlife," 
Noffsinger says. "If some- 
body wants to do something 
out there, and it's going to 
be of significant negative 
consequence for wildlife, 
we're not going to allow 

For now, the best refuge 
access is at Pea Island, 
nearly 5,800 acres of 
beaches and ponds that 
provide haven to migrating 
waterfowl and nesting areas 
for loggerhead turtles. 

Reaching Pea Island 
is simple. There are parking 
areas near the beach. And on 
the sound side, boardwalks 
and trails lead visitors past 
a turtle pond. Just beyond, 
observation towers equipped 
with heavy-duty, permanent binocu- 
lars bring a bird's image closer. 

Volunteers lead nature walks for 
children and birding walks for adults. 
On any given day, visitors may see a 
litany of waterfowl — from the glossy 
ibis to the least tern to willets, lesser 
yellowlegs and Wilson's plovers. 
And if you're willing to sit late on 
the beach, you may see female logger- 



head turtles dragging themselves 
ashore to deposit their eggs in the 

Over the years, Pea Island has 
remained popular; people are nearly 
always there, quietly watching birds. 

But people also are interested in 
Alligator River — so interested that 
a nonprofit support group formed 
several years ago, in large part to 

$5.5 million, the center will cost 
nearly 20 times the refuge's annual 
budget. But volunteers and staff alike 
say the refuge needs more ways to 
teach people what is going on at Alli- 
gator River — a key element in 
maintaining public support for their 

Noffsinger acknowledges the 
critical role public support plays; 

The land is one oj the last large pocosin tracts 
in North Carolina. Aside jrom the Department 
oj Dejenses Dare County bombing range, 
the rejuge today covers an entire peninsula, 
bordered by the Alligator River to the west, 
the Albemarle Sound to the north 
and the Pamlico Sound to the east. 

raise money to build a visitors' 
center. The Fish and Wildlife Service 
purchased land for the center on 
Roanoke Island; the Coastal Wildlife 
Refuge Society is raising money for 

The center would be used for 
refuge offices and for teaching the 
public about the work Fish and Wild- 
life is doing there, with descriptions 
of land management, a nature trail 
and a live red wolf exhibit. 

People would view the wolves 
through a one-way mirror — much 
like those used in police lineups — 
to protect the skittish canids from too 
much human attention. 

At an estimated $4.5 million to 

opposition can quickly kill the best 
of projects. And the importance of 
such support will only increase, he 
says. Noffsinger predicts future con- 
flict about what people can and can- 
not do on the refuge as human popu- 
lations increase and wild areas grow 
more scarce. 

"We like for people to be able to 
use it," he says. "We want the sup- 
port that comes with that. We want 
people to be able to see what won- 
derful things we're doing. 

"You allow them to participate 
as much as possible, try to provide 
the experience for them," Noffsinger 
says. "But we're very cautious." 



By Alison Davis 

SANDY RIDGE — The male 
eyes the humans warily as they 
approach the large pen, deep in the 
forested swamps of eastern Dare 

When they open the gate, he 
moves quickly away — as far away 
as the chain-link fence will let him. 

Reada Evans, a volunteer at the 
Alligator River National Wildlife Ref- 
uge, and Jennifer Dagen, a U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service biologist, enter 
the pen. The male begins to circle like 
an expectant, yet distrustful father. 

Evans walks to the pen's center 
and kicks what looks like a wooden 
doghouse. A female skitters out and 
joins the male in his nervous run 
along the fence. 

Evans lifts the roof off the box and 
looks inside. There, huddled together 
despite the warming temperatures, 
are six puppies. Red wolf puppies. 

Nearly six years have passed 
since the first two red wolves, captive 
born and raised, were released here 
in a groundbreaking experiment to 
give the canid a chance at escaping 

During that time, no one has 
huffed and puffed and blown the 
house down. Little Red Riding Hood 
hasn't disappeared. 

In fact, people haven't seen the 
wolves very often. And that's good, 
say Fish and Wildlife Service biolo- 
gists. It's one more sign that the shy, 
nocturnal red wolf is remaining wild. 

"It's been better than anybody 
ever expected," says Dagen, a 
biologist who works with the wolf 
re-establishment program. "They're 

Michael Halminski 


4 /? 

tie Brink ol Extinction 

real hardy, highly adaptable crea- 

Twenty years ago, hardy was 
hardly the word for it. That's when 
the Fish and Wildlife Service, fearing 
Canis rufus was about to become ex- 
tinct, began an ambitious program to 
save the wolf. 

It was almost too late. 

Red wolves once roamed 
a large portion of the south- 
eastern United States, includ- 
ing North Carolina. But hunt- 
ing, trapping and land conver- 
sion for forestry and agricul- 
ture pushed them out of the 
state by the early 1900s. Ag- 
gressive predator eradication 
programs eliminated more 
wolf territory by mid-century. 

By the 1960s, the wolves 
were concentrated in a small, 
marshy area of Texas and 
Louisiana. Populations 
dwindled, and in 1967, Canis 
rufus was declared an endan- 
gered species. 

But the species was not 
only losing its habitat; it was 
also losing its identity. As 
their habitat grew poor and 
populations declined, red 
wolves began to breed with 
coyotes, leading biologists to 
fear the true wolf quickly 
could vanish. 

In the 1970s, Fish and Wildlife 
workers began capturing every wild 
red wolf they would locate. They dis- 
covered there weren't many left. 
They trapped hundreds of animals, 
finding only about 40 that might be 
true red wolves. Extensive study and 

testing narrowed that pool to 14 
wolves that would serve as stock for 
the species. 

Several years passed before 
North Carolina was chosen as the 
wolves' new home, however. Fish 
and Wildlife officials first wanted 
to release them on the Tennessee 

\d wolves once roamed 
a large portion of the 
southeastern United States, 
including North Carolina. 
But hunting, trapping and land 
conversion for forestry and 
agriculture pushed them out of 
the state hy the early 1900s. 
Aggressive predator eradication 
programs eliminated more wolf 
territory by mid-century. 

Valley Authority's Land Between 
the Lakes region in Kentucky and 

It seemed an ideal place for the 
wolves. But the plan met with stiff 
opposition from hunters and ranch- 
ers, who were afraid the wolves 
would threaten their property rights 

and their livestock. Unable to sway 
them, the agency gave up in 1984. 

Enter Alligator River. While 
Fish and Wildlife had been capturing 
wolves and trying to appease wolf 
opponents in Kentucky and Tennes- 
see, The Nature Conservancy had 
begun talking with First Colony 

Farms about a deal to protect 
a large pocosin peninsula in 
eastern Dare County. 

The talks had nothing to 
do with red wolves. But in 
1984, just as Fish and Wildlife 
officials gave up on releasing 
the wolves on Land Between 
the Lakes, The Nature Con- 
servancy presented the agency 
with a gift: nearly 120,000 
acres of land. And it was per- 
fect for the red wolf. 

Fish and Wildlife officials 
quickly decided Alligator 
River would be the red wolf's 
new home. But the wolves 
didn't arrive immediately. 
The agency had learned some 
lessons from Land Between 
the Lakes. 

Before approaching 
Dare County about the wolf, 
officials declared the animal 
" experimental/nonessential," 
meaning the population re- 
leased would not be essential 
for the species' survival. 

Under this designation, wolves 
could be moved if they began show- 
ing up in town or causing problems 
on a farm. They could be killed if 
they were threatening a human life. A 
person who killed a wolf by accident 



wouldn't face prosecution. And deer 
hunting on the refuge could continue. 

The wolves would be outfitted 
with radio collars that allowed Fish 
and Wildlife biologists to track their 

Even with all of this, support of 
the project was by no means unani- 
mous. This was, after all, a wolf. 

"People have very strong emo- 
tions about wolves," biologist Dagen 

says. "Usually it's one way or the 
other. There is no middle ground." 

Compared to Land Between the 
Lakes — or to the opposition to cur- 
rent plans to reintroduce wolves to 
Yellowstone National Park — the 
Dare County opposition was minimal. 

"For the most part, the local folks 
have been very tolerant, if not outright 
supportive," Dagen says. "It's really 
not that big a deal." 

In the five years following the 
first release, 40 more wolves were 
released on the refuge. Twenty-two 
wolves were born, and 22 wolves 
died, mostly from vehicle accidents, 
fights with other wolves and drown- 
ing. One wolf choked on a raccoon 
kidney. Although not pleased with the 
deaths, Fish and Wildlife officials 
point out that none resulted from 
public hatred of the canids. 

But some deaths 
did indicate the 
wolves' lack of fear 
of things associated 
with humans — 
mostly motor ve- 
hicles. Fish and 
Wildlife officials 
continue to tinker 
with the program to 
increase the captive 
animals' dislike of 
people (and of 
trucks and cars) to 
boost their chances 
of survival after re- 
lease. "Wild-born 
animals," Dagen 
says, "are much 
more wise." 

Evans and 
Dagen don latex 
gloves before lifting 
the pups, one by one, 
out of the whelping 
box. Dagen holds 
the pups while 
Evans dabs anti- 
M^^M^Mi biotic ointment on 

their feet — a treat- 
ment for staph infections. 

For the most part, the wolf pups 
look like dog puppies. But their guard 
hairs — long, stiff hairs that help pro- 
tect them — are starting to come in, 
giving some of the pups a slightly 
startled look. 

They are unquestionably cute, 
and it would be tempting to cuddle 
them the way you would a family pet. 
But that's exactly what biologists 

cannot do. They want the wolves to 
distrust humans, to continue to fear 
them. So Evans and Dagen are busi- 
nesslike. They work quickly. 

The parents circle constantly, 
almost frantically, while the humans 
are in the pen. They look terrified. 

So much for the big, bad wolf 

About 30 red wolves now roam 
the Alligator River refuge. Biologists 
track them with radio collars, flying 
over the refuge about three times 
weekly to chart each wolf's location. 

Red wolves are reclusive and 
nocturnal, traveling alone or in small 
family groups. Most of the groups 
have shown an affinity for disturbed 
areas — areas that have been logged 
or fanned — where primary succes- 
sion has begun. Here, small rodents 
(marsh rabbits are a favorite food) 
tend to be more plentiful. 

"Wolves like edges of things," 
Dagen says. "They do well in varying 
habitats. They range over a huge 
area, and they have done all that dis- 
persing on their own." 

This year, Fish and Wildlife 
officials plan to aid in the dispersion, 
releasing one family of wolves on 
the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife 
Refuge, which covers remote por- 
tions of Hyde, Tyrrell and Washing- 
ton counties. A six-puppy family will 
be released on a small island north of 
the peninsula. 

Fish and Wildlife biologists 
consider Pocosin Lakes an ideal 
location for the wolf because of its 
similarity to the Alligator River 
refuge. But this release may not be 
as smooth as the Dare County release 
of six years ago. 

Last year, county commissioners 
in Washington and Hyde counties 
resolved to oppose the wolf release 
out of fear that the canid would 
attack livestock or children. And the 
commissioners were concerned that 
the animal later would be declared 
endangered and landowners would 
lose rights on their land should the 


wolves choose to use it. 

Fish and Wildlife officials say 
that's not the case. The wolf feeds on 
small animals. It's afraid of humans. 
And, they say, it will continue to be 
classified as nonessential, meaning it 
wouldn't impinge on landowner 
rights. Yet they have been unable to 
satisfy many opponents. 

Indeed, opposition stems from 
worries about more than just the 
wolf. The two counties are economi- 
cally strangled by high unemploy- 
ment rates and low tax bases. 
Washington County officials, for 
example, see the refuge as an eco- 
nomic loss, as land that long-range 
plans had designated for industrial 
use until it was donated to Fish and 

"We don't have a lot of industry 
in this area," says Andy Allen, chair- 
man of the Washington County 
Board of Commissioners. "We need 
to expand our industrial base. We 
would love to see some industry 
develop in that area. I doubt that it 
ever will now." 

Allen says people aren't angry 
enough to start fighting. But he wor- 
ries they will. If they do, the program 
could suffer. 

"Once we get off Alligator River 
and Pocosin Lakes, it's private land," 
says Art Beyer, a biologist with the 
wolf program. "If we can't work 
with these people, there's no way this 
will work." 

For the most part, biologists say, 
residents aren't even aware of the 
wolf once it's released. The animals 
are nocturnal and shy, and people 
rarely see them. 

"We get a lot of people who 
want to come out and see wolves," 
Beyer says. "We know where they're 
at, and we don't see them very of- 

DURANT ISLAND — There is a 
wolf in the tree. At least, that's what 
it looks like just for a minute. 

The branch near the wolfs head 

moves, revealing a chain-link over- 
hang that prevents the animal from 
doing what he wants to do: leave 
his pen. 

There's a thud as the wolf falls to 
the ground. He leaps up, runs to a 
corner of the pen. He pauses momen- 
tarily to eye his human visitors, then 
charges again for the fence, scaling 
a full 8 feet before the overhang 
sends him tumbling to the ground 
once more. 

It is the 
puppy play of a 
yet it is a sign. 
These wolves 
want out. In fact, 
one of the 
puppy's siblings 
already has suc- 
ceeded in escap- 
ing. She was re- 
captured a few 
days later. 

may keep the 
Durant Island 
wolf family 
caged a few 
months longer to 
give the wolves 
time to identify 
with the island. 
The last family 
of wolves re- 
leased here did 
not make the 

didn't associate 

Durant with home," Beyer says. The 
wolves tried to leave by crossing a 
wide expanse of the Albemarle 
Sound. All but one drowned. 

As the possible release dates 
near, biologists are doing everything 
they can to increase the pups' 
chances of survival: rabies shots, 
parvo vaccinations, help with food. 

In addition to the bowls of kibble 
and weekly horse meat "C-logs," or 

"carnivore logs," biologists leave car- 
casses of road-kill deer to help the 
wolves practice eating other animals 
and to make sure they are at a healthy 
weight. Released wolves don't al- 
ways begin to hunt immediately. 

Biologists will continue to 
supplement the wolves' food for a 
short while after the release, until 
analyses of the animals' scats show 
hair and bone, meaning they are 

hunting on their own. 

"Once we do, we quit," Dagen 
says. "We have found that they really 
don't seem to lose the hunting in- 

From then, biologists' only con- 
tact with the wolves will be by radio 
collar, save for occasional trappings 
for shots and collar changes. The 
wolves will be watched closely, but 
they'll be on their own. 



By C.R. Edgerton 

Nine million bricks. 

Tons and tons of shifting sand. 

And a hole big enough to hold a 
small ship. 

That's what Fort Macon meant 
to the slaves and day laborers who 
built it in the early decades of the last 

Today, 157 years later, Fort 
Macon is North Carolina's most 
visited state park. 

If you think the 
beautiful beaches 
that kiss the lips of 
this old fort are the 
real drawing card 
of Fort Macon 
State Park, think 

"Our coastal 
parks are by far the 
most visited," says 
Margaret Hassell 
of the N.C. Divi- 
sion of Parks and 
Recreation. "But in 
this case, the fort 
itself is the drawing 
card. It's unique to 
that part of the 

Hassell says 
almost 1.4 million 
people strolled into 
Fort Macon State 
Park in 1992. And 
few of those 
beachgoers left 
without taking at 
least a peek at the brick structure 
lying just a few hundred yards from 
the sand and surf. 

An overriding sense of shared 
history lures people of both Northern 
and Southern persuasion from the 
scrunchy sand of the park's wide 
beaches into the grass and brick 
pentagon that make up Fort Macon 

On its way to becoming one of 
North Carolina's most popular tour- 
ist attractions, this stately brick 
monument paid its dues as a sentinel 
for the state's barrier islands. It has 
weathered the fiercest hurricanes, the 
ravages of war and the abuse of 
men who left it more than once 
abandoned. It's a curious landmark 
for seabirds and a place to which 
catbrier clings. 

Of the fort's decades of history, 

spring. Sea gulls squawked at 
schooling fish. It was a perfect day at 
the beach. 

But not so perfect for Col. 
Moses White, the Confederate offi- 
cer commanding Fort Macon. He 
hadn't come to the desolate spit of 
sand at the tip of Bogue Banks for a 
vacation. He was sent there to de- 
fend a fort that some military people 
considered already obsolete. 

Like other commanders before 

Gen. Robert E. Lee never entered the fort during the Civil War, 
but he did visit in the 1840s. As a young lieutenant, he came to 
Bogue Banks to design a system of jetties to help prevent erosion. 

perhaps no period is better known 
than the Civil War years. "That's 
why most people come to the fort," 
says Christy Skojec, a park guide 
and historical interpreter. "There's 
just a great deal of interest in the 
Civil War." 

The climax of that history began 
at dawn on April 25, 1862. Warm 
sea breezes signaled the coming of 

him, the colonel saw his service at 
Fort Macon as less than desirable. 
The isolation and mundane daily 
tasks of drill and prepare made duty 
there an exile of sorts. 

But that's the way the duty had 
always been. Since the first of its 9.3 
million bricks was laid in 1826, the 
fort had been the dropping-off place 



for the men of the U.S. Army. 
President Thomas Jefferson 
ordered that Fort Macon — named 
for revolutionary war hero 
Nathaniel Macon, a North Carolina 
senator who procured funds to con- 
struct the fortress — be built as one 
of a line of 38 brick forts along the 
East Coast. Jefferson reasoned that 
building strong forts armed with 
heavy weapons would protect 
coastal commerce without the need 

built at Old Topsail (now Beaufort) 
Inlet. It was located about 300 feet 
from the site of Fort Macon. For 
about two decades, this small brick 
fort protected the harbor. Duty at 
Fort Hampton was not desirable, and 
it was deserted. In 1825, a hurricane 
lashed the tip of Bogue Banks and 
swept the little fort into the sea. 

Fort Hampton was gone, but the 
need for a strong, long-lasting 
coastal defense for Beaufort had not 

The fort was constructed between 1826 and 1834 using 9.3 million bricks. 
The walls inside the moat are 4.5 feet thick. The moat is connected by a series 

of canals to Bogue Inlet so that water from the inlet could be used to flood 
the moat in the event of an attack. The moat was never used for this purpose. 

for a large national navy. 

Two other forts, Dobbs and 
Hampton, predated Fort Macon. 
Begun in 1756, Fort Dobbs was 
never finished, leaving the inlet 
defenseless against pirates and 
other seagoing scoundrels who 
struck fear in the hearts of even the 
most hardy coastal residents. 

In 1808, Fort Hampton was 

diminished. Enter Fort Macon. 

From its inception, Fort Macon 
was to be a fine example of a brick, 
casemate fort. Built mainly with 
slave labor and local materials, the 
fort became a showcase of coastal 
fortress construction. 

But again, isolation, coastal 
storms and a Spartan existence for its 
garrison made Fort Macon one of the 

worst duty posts in the country. 
Now and then, a generous soul 
would be assigned to command the 
fort. Such a man was Gen. Samuel 
French, a veteran soldier. 

"I spent most of my time sailing 
on the sound and fishing," the gen- 
eral wrote of his duty in 1843. "The 
water teemed with fish, and both 
game and oysters were abundant." 

When he was transferred a year 
later, French had trouble saying 
goodbye. "My 
stay at Fort Ma- 
con was pleas- 
ant," he wrote. 
"And I was not 
overjoyed to leave 
the place." 

Twenty years 
later, Moses 
White would use 
any word but 
pleasant to de- 
scribe his difficult 
duty at the fort. 

The Confed- 
erate colonel 
knew the Union 
Army had vowed 
to recapture Fort 
Macon. A year 
earlier, Confeder- 
ate Capt. Josiah 
Pender of Beau- 
fort and his garri- 
son of local troops 
took the fort from 
an ordnance ser- 
geant without 
firing a shot. Re- 
storing Fort Macon to the Union 
would be a lift for morale and return 
another major Confederate fort to the 
hands of the U.S. government. It 
would also secure safety for ships 
that had to pass the fort to supply 
major Union strongholds like New 
Bern and Kinston. 

For weeks, the Union Army had 
prepared for its attack on Fort Ma- 


con. Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside, 
who had only recently won a deci- 
sive battle for New Bern, decided 
that taking Fort Macon by sea would 
be a futile effort with great loss of 
men and equipment. The fully armed 
fort, a moat, 54 huge guns and a 
garrison of more than 400 troops, 
would be the clear winner in a 
water-based assault. Fort Macon was 
designed to protect Beaufort Harbor 
from attack by sea, and the men in- 
side the fort knew 
how to perform 
that task with 
deadly skill. 

didn't base his 
plan of attack on 
surprise. It would 
be a land assault on 
a fort built on the 
basically flat plain 
of a barrier island. 
Only a few sand 
dunes separated the 
Union Army's 
efforts from the 
watchful eyes of 
the men posted as 
the fort's spotters. 

In plain view 
of the Confeder- 
ates, Union 
artillerymen in 
March 1862 began 
digging entrench- 
ments and setting 
up large guns and 
mortars. Now and 
then, the Confeder- 
ates in the fort would fire a volley 
from one of the fort's large guns. 
The missile would pierce the air over 
the heads of the Union artillerymen 
only to continue down the strand, 
falling harmlessly into the white 
sand a half mile away. The Confed- 
erates needed mortars, weapons that 
could lob an explosive shell behind 
the dunes and into the waiting Union 

batteries. But mortars had never 
been sent to the fort, despite White's 
efforts to acquire them. 

Realizing the fort's weapons 
were useless against their advance, 
the Union Army continued its pa- 
tient building of batteries for the 
final assault on Fort Macon. 

As White watched the sun rise 
on that fateful April morning, he 
needed no warning. He was as pre- 
pared as possible. Only weeks before 

mutiny had crossed the colonel's 
mind more than once. 

As the sun rose clearly out of the 
Atlantic, a sharp report and a puff of 
smoke issued from the enemy's bat- 
teries a quarter mile up the wind- 
swept banks. In time too short to 
count, the shot sliced the air over 
Fort Macon with an eerie shrill. The 
men in the fort, most of whom had 
been preparing for this day for 
months, watched as the deadly mis- 

While the fort was being used as a federal penitentiary after 
the Civil War, several prisoners escaped from one of the casements 
through an air vent no more than 18 inches in diameter. 
Three were later recaptured; the rest were never found. 

the Union began its slow assault on 
the fort, he'd managed to procure 
supplies to last six months. Those 
supplies were dwindling now, and 
the men in the fort were beginning to 
complain about food and living con- 
ditions. All the men's toilet facilities 
were outside the fort proper, a dan- 
ger zone by anyone's standards. The 
possibility that his men might plan a 

sile bypassed the fort and slammed 
into Beaufort Harbor, skipping 
through the whitecaps like a child's 
tossed rock. 

Ten minutes later, Fort Macon's 
artillery crews responded with a 
round of fire from the fort's big 
guns. The battle was on. Shot after 
shot from the Union ranks soared 



over the fort, falling harmlessly into 
the water beyond. As the crisp morn- 
ing changed to a warm noon, the shots 
began to rain upon the fort with more 
accuracy. A Union signalman sta- 
tioned at Beaufort had a bird's-eye 
view of the attack. As the Union 
artillerymen fired, he signaled to them 
ways to adjust their aim. 

Meanwhile, the Confederates in 
Fort Macon were slinging their own 
powerful artillery at their Union oppo- 
nents. But the shells failed to shut 
down the Union thrust. Because the 
Rebs had no mortars, the Union troops 
avoided the fort's guns by simply 
ducking behind the dunes. The big 
guns could only fire in a straight line. 

During the battle, Bumside or- 
dered an attack on the fort by sea. But 
this proved to be the Confederates' 
only victory of the day. No seagoing 
craft could match the fort's great guns. 

For 1 1 hours the two sides bom- 
barded each other. The Yanks fired 
more than 1,000 shells at the fort, 
with about 565 hitting their mark. 
Amazingly, the dead included only 
seven Confederates and one Union 
soldier — one who failed to heed the 
warning, "Duck!" 

But the fort was a shambles. 
What had been hailed as one of the 
finest forts of its kind had been re- 
duced to rubble. The Union's rifled 
cannons had thrust their bombs with 
such accuracy and force that some 
areas of the fort were literally split- 
ting under the pressure. The missiles 
struck ever closer to the fort's main 
gunpowder magazines. White knew 
he was outnumbered. He feared a 
gigantic explosion and the loss of 
many lives. Realizing he was being 
attacked by the same people who had 
designed Fort Macon, the colonel 
raised the white flag of truce. 

Later, White and Bumside agreed 
to simple terms: the fort would be 
turned over to the U.S. government, 



During World War II, a man 
in the Atlantic anti-submarine force 

stationed at the fort 
used an old Civil War shell casing 
as an andiron in a fireplace. 

The shell exploded, 
injuring the man. The fort 
became internationally known 
when "Ripley's Believe it or Nor 
published the incident as 

ihe last shot fired 
in the American Civil War." 

and the men stationed there would 
surrender their arms. The general 
generously pardoned all the 
Confederates as prisoners of war 
for exchange. 

For the remainder of the war, 
Fort Macon stayed in Union hands, 
guarding the entrance to Beaufort 
Harbor from Confederate gunships 
and privateers. 

After the Civil War, its glory 
made obsolete by sophisticated 
weaponry like rifled cannons, the 
fort was abandoned by the U.S. 
Army. The federal government 
used the structure as a penitentiary 
until 1876, and the Army stationed 
a garrison of men there during the 
Spanish-American War in 1898. 

By 1903, the Army abandoned 
Fort Macon permanently and al- 
lowed the catbrier, yaupon and 
blowing sand to attack at will. In 
1924, after the Army offered the 
fort and its compound for sale as 
surplus property, the U.S. Congress 
allowed North Carolina to acquire 
the fort for $ 1 . And on May 1 , 
1936, Fort Macon became the 
state's first functional state park. 

The fort's last official duty 
came during World War II, when 
the federal government again leased 
the property as quarters, this time 
for anti-submarine forces stationed 
on the barrier islands. 

Scotl D Taylor 


m a r i n e advice 

Letting Bycatch Out off the Bag 

A new North Carolina fisheries 
regulation has commercial watermen 
who fish state waters rigging their 
nets with bycatch reduction devices 
(BRDs). The regulation's purpose is 
to reduce the amount of nontargeted 
catch — bycatch — that fishermen 
net along with their intended catch. 
North Carolina is the only state to 
require use of BRDs in inshore 

Fisheries managers believe that 
reducing bycatch may help restore 
the deficits in some fisheries. But 
any device that allows unintended 
catch to escape may let the target 
catch out of the tailbag too. 

That's why Sea Grant fisheries 
agents Jim Bahen and Wayne 
Wescott have been testing different 
types of BRDs and net configura- 
tions to see how they work over vari- 
ous kinds of inshore bottom areas. 

Bahen's project, funded by 
the National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NMFS) through the Marine 
Fisheries Initiative Program, had the 
cooperation of several fishermen. 
They tested four BRD designs at four 
locations — the Cape Fear River, 
Pamlico Sound, Core Sound and the 
estuary behind Topsail Beach — for 
10 nights during peak brown shrimp 
season. The BRDs were used in con- 
junction with turtle excluder devices 
(TEDs), which resource managers 
also require inshore shrimpers to use 
to release endangered sea turtles. 

The fishermen tested two hard 
BRD designs — the Florida Fish 
Separator and a PVC pipe design. 
The soft BRD designs were varia- 
tions of what fishermen call the 
"snake eye." The snake eye is a 
diamond-mesh extension that is 
attached behind the turtle excluder 
device. Diamond-shaped holes in the 

Wayne Wescott 

extension allow the bycatch to es- 
cape. The extension was tested with 
and without an accelerator, which 
funnels the catch to the tailbag. 

During testing, the boats were 
rigged on one side with a BRD. On 
the other side, the BRD was sewn 
shut according to a testing protocol 
established by NMFS. A technician 
and a graduate student gathered 
bycatch reduction and catch data and 
monitored the equipment. 

After testing, Bahen sent all of 
the data to NMFS for analysis. 

"The verdict is still out," he says. 
"All of the designs reduced bycatch. 
But we're waiting to see which one 
reduced bycatch and retained the most 
shrimp. We want to see the percent- 
ages on shrimp loss and bycatch re- 
duction before we make any recom- 
mendations about BRD designs." 

Meanwhile, Wescott tested an- 
other bycatch reduction method — 
large mesh webbing in the belly of the 
shrimp net. Fishermen had suggested 
to Wescott that large webbing in the 
belly might reduce bycatch without 
having to add gear or extensions in 
the tailbag. 

They theorized that the shrimp 
would be swept into the tailbag, by- 
passing the large mesh. Fish, how- 
ever, would be able to escape the net 
through the big-mesh belly. 

During initial tests last year, the 
idea seemed to work. This year, 
Wescott received a Saltonstall- 
Kennedy grant from NMFS to pursue 
the idea on a larger scale. 

"Our goal was to have 50 percent 
reduction in bycatch with only a 3 
percent loss in shrimp," Wescott says. 

With the help of a fisherman, 
Wescott tested 4-inch, 6-inch and 
8-inch webbing in the belly. All re- 
duced bycatch. The reduction varied 
between 24 and 74 percent, Wescott 

But the webbing also allowed 
between 20 and 60 percent of the 
shrimp to escape too. 

"That kind of shrimp loss is 
totally unacceptable," Wescott says. 
"It simply didn't work, and I hope 
our work will prevent fishermen 
from spending money on this type of 

Kathy Hart 


Roving mariners 

Sea Which 

Here's a playful, artistic activity 
for kids that has an air of suspense 
and mystery. With "Sea Which," it's 
easy to become a fast draw. 

Use this page or photocopy for a 
whole group to use. Follow these 
simple instructions: 

1. Cutout circle. 

2. Place circle on a sheet of 
paper with a piece of carbon 
paper in between (leftovers 
from duplicating 
masters work). 

3. Thumbtack "Sea Which" 
through center. (You may want to 
use an old magazine or piece of thick 
cardboard as a base.) 

4. Pencil a reference mark on 
paper at top of circle. 

5. Swivel circle until number 1 
on circle edge is on the mark. Then 

trace over all thick solid lines (there's 
one solid dot in puzzle) marked "1." 
(There are two marks that correspond 
to numbers 1 and 10.) 

6. Swivel circle to number 2. 
Repeat until all lines have been 

7. Lift circle and carbon and 
"Sea Which" you've got! 

Adapted from Sea Grant's 
Coastal Ecology. 







a c k talk 

Coastwatch wants to hear from 
you on topics relating to the North 
Carolina coast. Letters should be no 
longer than 250 words and should 
contain the author's name, address 
and telephone number. Letters may 
be edited for style. Send all corre- 
spondence to Coastwatch, N.C. Sea 
Grant, Box 8605, N.C. State Univer- 
sity, Raleigh, NC 27695. Opinions 
expressed on this page are not 
necessarily those of N.C. Sea Grant 
employees and staff. 

Lighthouses Issue 

May/June was a great issue. I 
enjoyed lighthouses and striped bass. 
No mention of Gen. George Meade, 
whom I thought had a lot to do with 
building lighthouses. 

Walter E. Diemer, 

Lancaster, PA 

You're right. Gen. George 
Meade figured prominently in the 
history of East Coast lighthouses, 
particularly efforts to improve the 
performance of the fledgling bea- 
cons. In 1853, when Meade was 
assigned to lighthouse duty as a 
young lieutenant in the army 
engineers, he designed a lamp that 
was adopted and used in the light- 
house service. Two years later, the 
nation s Lighthouse Board dis- 
patched him to inspect the failing 
Barnegat Light Station in New 
Jersey and make recommendations 
as to its fate. Meade later oversaw 
the construction of two significant 
East Coast beacons: the Absecon 
light tower, lighted in 1857, which 
became one of the most frequently 
visited stations during its active days 
in Atlantic City, NJ., and the Som- 
brero Key light in 1858, which was 
part of a chain of beacons built on 
ocean reefs to protect the Florida 

I'm sure the history of light- 
houses is full of innovators such as 
Meade, who by the way, commanded 
the Union forces in the Battle of 
Gettysburg. Our story, however, 
focused less on the innovations that 
made the lighthouses possible and 
more on the individual histories of 
the North Carolina beacons. 

Coastwatch Staff 
Gets Pat on the Back 

Thanks for all you do to educate 
your readers about our beautiful 
Carolina shore. I've been enjoying 
Coastwatch since its days as a simple 
newsletter. The new format is 

Julia Batten Wax, 

Emerald Isle, NC 

Thank you for your support and 
kind comments. We're enjoying the 
new Coastwatch too, especially the 
ability to bring you more in-depth 
articles about our coast and its 

More Information 
on Treating Stingray 

I was pleased Jeannie Faris 
could extract some pearls from my 
book, Nature Guide to the Carolina 
Coast, for two articles in the July/ 
August Coastwatch. As an emer- 

gency medicine doctor with a special 
interest in hazardous animals, I'd like 
to offer some medical pearls to 
augment the "Beach Dangers" article 
in the same issue. 

The hallmark of both stingray 
and jellyfish stings is intense pain at 
the site of the sting. These wounds 
are rarely serious, however, and most 
often can be treated with simple 
home remedies. 

Stingray wounds should be 
treated by immediate immersion of 
the stung area in hot water (plunk the 
foot into a bucket of hot water). Hot 
water provides dramatic relief of pain 
and possibly helps prevent complica- 
tions such as local tissue death and 
wound infection. The water should be 
as hot as a victim can tolerate without 
scalding; immersion should continue 
for 30 to 60 minutes. Treatment for 
jellyfish or man-of-war stings 
consists of application of vinegar 
soaks. Cover the stung area with a 
towel or shirt, saturate the cloth with 
vinegar and leave in place for 30 to 
60 minutes. Vinegar is the solution 
that best inactivates the stinging cells. 

In the majority of cases, these 
simple remedies provide adequate 

If whole-body symptoms or 
shock is present, care should obvi- 
ously be sought on an emergency 
basis. If hot water/vinegar application 
fails to control pain, or if a piece of 
stingray barb is thought to remain in a 
wound, treatment on a less urgent 
basis can be sought. 

Dr. Peter K. Meyer 

Wilmington, NC 

Thank you, Dr. Meyer, for 
providing this information. I'm sure 
these words of wisdom will be helpful 
for swimmers who encounter a 
stingray or jellyfish during a beach 


d f t deck 

Emily Summons 
New Flood Maps for 

Nature isn't always evenhanded. 
Hurricane Emily demonstrated this in 
September, flooding homes on the 
Pamlico Sound and eating away at the 
Outer Banks beachfront near rip cur- 
rents and shifting sandbars. 

Sea Grant's coastal engineer, 
Spencer Rogers, says the building 
code served the communities well 
with regard to wind damage, but pre- 
dicted flood elevations fell short. 

"The flooding in the area from 
Hatteras to Buxton was 1 to 2 feet 
higher than the predicted 100-year 
storm," he says. This will probably 
result in revised flood maps for the 
area within the next year, Rogers says. 

"Most of the major wind damage 
occurred to either older buildings or 
buildings that hadn't been constructed 
to code," says Rogers, adding that 
shingle damage was widespread. "The 
things that were damaged by the 
winds were what you'd expect to be 
damaged: poorly connected roofs, 
porches, eaves, mobile homes." 

But he says the storm provided 
less than a full test of the wind code. 
The building code is based on 1 10 
mph winds. Emily never exceeded 
sustained winds of more than 80 to 
90 mph. Peak gusts on the ground 
measured 107 mph. 

Rogers spent the weeks after the 
hurricane measuring water marks and 
observing the wreckage on the island. 
Setting up camp with the state's Divi- 
sion of Emergency Management and 
the U.S. Geological Survey, he looked 
at debris and water lines inside houses 
and assessed damage along the shore- 
line and dunes. 

Recently constructed homes on 
pilings fared well. But the old, 
low-lying houses on the sound side 
were hardest hit by flooding. The 

worst damage was to the old villages 
of Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras. 
About 700 buildings along Cape 
Hatteras were damaged or destroyed, 
including about 100 mobile homes, 
says Rogers. 

An expert on hurricane-resistant 
construction, Rogers is comparing his 
findings to past storms and evaluating 
possibilities for future storm damage. 
Also, Sea Grant is sponsoring engi- 
neering research with N.C. A&T Uni- 
versity that will examine shingle dam- 
age on homes blasted by the storm. 

Record Numbers 
Sweep Shorelines 

In numbers of volunteers, First 
Citizens Bank Big Sweep '93 was the 
biggest cleanup ever of North 
Carolina's beaches and inland water- 
ways. The annual September cleanup 
attracted 12,287 volunteers to the 
cause of bagging aquatic debris. 

The bounty — more than 223 
tons of garbage — fell short of last 
year's 256 tons. Executive Director 
Susan Bartholomew says that's be- 
cause many of the cleanup sites were 
repeats from years past. 

"We appear to be making a dif- 
ference and changing people's behav- 
ior," she says. "On the coast, we've 
found that sites that were cleaned up 
several years in a row often don't get 
littered as badly." 

Bartholomew says organizers will 
be looking for new sites for Big 
Sweep '94, particularly inland. 

"Some of our mountain organiz- 
ers reported that they could have used 
many more volunteers to get at the 
problem there," she says. "Next year, 
we're going to target some of those 

As usual, volunteers found the 
unusual — a scarecrow in Transyl- 
vania County and X-rated videos in 
Forsyth County. Volunteers also re- 

moved more than 1 ,500 tires from riv- 
ers and estuaries. 

Participants counted and recorded 
every piece of litter they bagged. The 
tally sheets will be sent to the Center 
for Marine Conservation in Washing- 
ton, D.C., for tabulation. Big Sweep 
uses the results to tailor educational 
programs for target audiences. 

The N.C. Big Sweep is a year- 
round educational program. For 
more information about the event, 
its committees or programs, call 919/ 
856-6686. Or write N.C. Big Sweep, 
P.O. Box 550, Raleigh, NC 27602. 

Saving Turtles in North 
Carolina Waters 

These days, turtle excluder devices 
(TEDs) are a common net accessory 
on boats that fish the South Atlantic 
Coast. The rectangular and oval- 
shaped contraptions have bounced 
turtles out of shrimp nets here and in 
the Gulf of Mexico for about six years. 

But only recently have North 
Carolina flounder fishermen been 
added to the list of commercial water- 
men required to fit their nets with 
TEDs. For the second consecutive 
season, the National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NMFS) is mandating this 
turtle-protection measure in flounder 
boats that trawl the ocean between the 
North Carolina-South Carolina state 
line and Cape Charles,Va. 

The poor performance of TEDs in 
flounder nets last year had commercial 
fishermen apprehensively preparing 
for the 1993-94 season. 

Last year, fishermen in this region 
landed nearly 1 1 million pounds of 
summer flounder worth about $14 mil- 
lion. But they complained that their 
harvests were marred by conchs clog- 
ging TEDs early in the season, be- 
tween November and December. 
Dogfish piled into the nets through 
January, the end of the season. 


TEDs in flounder nets are more 
susceptible to clogging because the 
nets are large and skim the ocean 
floor. A flounder net can collect as 
much as 20,000 pounds of dogfish 
when they're schooling off the coast, 
causing the TED and tailbag to rip off 
from the weight. 

These complications, however, 
are outweighed by the risk of flounder 
fishermen inadvertently drowning en- 
dangered sea turtles in their nets, 
NMFS has concluded. The federal 
agency mandated the use of TEDs 
through an emergency rule under the 
Endangered Species Act, which cov- 
ers the sea turtles. Of the five species 
found off the U.S. coast, all sea turtles 
are listed as threatened or endangered 
and are protected by federal law. 

According to fisheries service 
technicians, two types of TEDs, the 
Anthony Weedless and a structurally 
strengthened version of the Super- 
shooter, proved successful in exclud- 
ing turtles and retaining flounder 
during last year's summer flounder 
bottom-trawl season. Both are 
NMFS-approved devices. A third 
TED, developed last season, is ex- 
pected to be certified this year. 
Formerly called the Conch TED, 
the Flounder TED shoots turtles out 
the top of the net and releases conchs 
through a row of 10-inch holes in the 

Sea Grant and NMFS hosted a 
series of fall workshops to help com- 
mercial fishermen come into compli- 
ance with the federal TED require- 
ments and know the best gear options. 

A Risky Catch 

Anglers are more open-minded 
about eating their catch as declining 
stocks force them to wait longer be- 
tween bites. They're trying new 
dishes, sampling fish that swallowed 
hooks baited for another species. But 
fishermen bent on new culinary excur- 
sions should take heed. Some fish, 

such as barracuda, can be dangerous 
to their health. 

Barracuda can carry a toxin called 
ciguatera that causes nausea, vomiting 
and tingling or numbness in the lips, 
tongue and mouth within hours of in- 
gestion. In severe cases, it causes 
hot-to-cold sensory reversal so that 
cold objects feel hot and hot objects 
feel cold. 

Joyce Taylor, Sea Grant's seafood 
education specialist, cautions against 
eating any amount of barracuda. Some 
reports of ciguatera poisoning have 
turned up in North Carolina in the last 
five years, and there is no way to de- 
tect the toxin in fish. It can't be 
smelled, seen or tasted. And unlike 
bacteria, it can't be killed by cooking 
or freezing. 

"We can no longer safely say 
that there aren't cases of ciguatera 
in temperate waters such as North 
Carolina's," Taylor says. "There is a 
remote possibility of coming into con- 
tact with the toxin, so we have to tell 
people to use their own judgment." 

A spate of recent phone calls to 
Sea Grant and the N.C. Division of 
Marine Fisheries may indicate a 
heightened concern among anglers 
and seafood consumers about the risks 
of ciguatera. But recreational landings 
of barracuda — a tasty, flaky fish — 
have remained fairly stable this year. 

Taylor tells callers that ciguatera 
can inflict toxic symptoms within 
three to five hours of ingestion. The 
symptoms are usually short-lived, but 
they vary according to the severity of 
the case. The neurological symptoms 
of severe ciguatera poisoning can re- 
cur for years, she says. 

Barracuda are not inherently 
toxic. The poison originates in micro- 
plankton or dinoflagellates that are 
eaten by small reef fish. These fish are 
prey to larger fish, and in time the 
larger fish can become toxic. Anglers 
hook them and take them home or to 

The tropical waters of the Virgin 

Islands and Guam are breeding 
grounds for ciguatera. Miami, too, 
has had problems that prompted the 
city to ban the sale of barracuda. 
From the South Atlantic, the fish 
travel to North Carolina via the Gulf 
Stream, where they can be caught 
year-round, says Doug Mumford, a 
fisheries technician for the division. 
Barracuda venture as close as 5 to 10 
miles offshore during warm months, 
and sometimes their larvae use the 
estuaries for nurseries. 

Some people think that it's safer 
to eat the smaller barracuda — 2 to 3 
feet and smaller — that are less 
likely to have accumulated high lev- 
els of the toxin, says Frank Schwartz, 
a marine biologist for the University 
of North Carolina Institute of Marine 
Sciences. But he points out that the 
ciguatera cases in North Carolina 
involved smaller fish. 

N.C. Marine 
Fishing Forum 

As long as a valuable natural 
resource is limited, there will be a 
struggle over who can harvest it. 

This is especially true in the case 
of commercial and recreational fish- 
ermen who are jockeying for the 
right to catch the limited fish stocks 
off North Carolina's coast. 

Over the years, the debate has 
been increasingly contentious, cir- 
cling such issues as who is most en- 
titled to these fish, who invests more 
in the economy by fishing and who 
most impacts the resource. 

The third annual N.C. Marine 
Recreational Fishing Forum will 
focus on finding common ground in 
the conflict between these two 

For more information about 
the upcoming forum, slated for Feb. 
19, contact Jim Murray at Sea Grant 
by calling 919/515-2454 or writing 
Box 8605, N.C. State University, 
Raleigh, NC 27695. 


Coastal commentary 

Fishing for a Saltwater License 

Saltwater fishermen to the north 
and the south of us pay for the privi- 
lege of casting a line for the catch of 
the day. But not in North Carolina. 


The N.C. Marine Fisheries 
Commission is working on a salt- 
water sportfishing license package 
that is expected to be ready for the 
General Assembly by spring 1995. 

This much is certain — wherever 
a saltwater fishing license has been 
proposed elsewhere, it has ignited dis- 
agreement among supporters and de- 
tractors equally dedicated to their posi- 
tion. A saltwater license is either an 
assault on one of the few remaining 
untaxed pleasures of life or a tool to 
raise money for enhancing troubled 
fish stocks. 

All can agree on one thing, how- 
ever. If recreational fishermen don't 
get involved in the debate, for or 
against the license, they could find 
themselves with a license that they 
don't like. 

N.C. Sea Grant doesn't have a po- 
sition on the issue, says Jim Murray, 
director of the Marine Advisory Ser- 
vice. But he organized the 1993 N.C. 
Recreational Fishing Forum to give the 
issue a thorough airing out. 

"The important thing is to set up 
the process to develop the license 
openly and fairly, giving all sides, and 
not just fishermen, a chance for input," 
he says. "It affects the chambers of 
commerce and tourism, and they need 
to be part of the process. My only 
stance is, if we're going to do it, do it 

The license is an idea that's al- 
ready caught on in other states. In 
South Carolina, resident anglers pay 
$5.50 for a stamp that entitles them to 
fish in salt water all year. In Florida, 
the price is $12 for locals. In Virginia, 

local and visiting fishermen pay 
$7.50. The prices vary from state to 
state for nonresidents, charter boats, 
pier fishermen and others. Anglers 
can also buy a license for just a few 
days or a few years. 

The payback is twofold, support- 
ers say. The license revenues give rec- 
reational anglers a power base from 
which to voice their views. Currently, 
sportfishermen say, they're not well 
represented on the boards and com- 
missions that manage fisheries. In 
short, they're not vested players. But 
dollars and a unified voice would 
give them the ear of the N.C. Marine 
Fisheries Commission, they say. 

Also, their money can be used to 
enhance the fish that they angle for. 
In Florida, where the license has 
raised $12 million per year, the state 
has expanded research on tarpon, 
snook and spotted sea trout; spent 
more on artificial reef development; 
and monitored and assessed stocks of 
juvenile fisheries. 

But there have been tough lessons 
learned in every state. When fisher- 
men start paying for a license, they 
expect immediate dividends on their 
investment in the form of better fish- 
ing. And skeptics fear that taxing fish- 
ermen would discourage tourism, 
damage local economies and penalize 
subsistence fishermen. 

Plus, the state could dump the 
proceeds into the general fund and 
spend the money elsewhere. It's hard 
for the state to invest in a resource 
that can swim away, says critic John 
Newbold, a board member of the N.C. 
Beach Buggy Association. But sup- 
porters say anglers can guarantee that 
their money is invested in fisheries by 
writing the spending formula into law. 

Nearby states are continuing to 
fine-tune their programs, and North 

Carolina can gain from their experi- 
ences. For example, each state at 
the outset wanted the license to 
measure the impact of recreational 
fishing on the stocks. But because of 
wide-reaching exemptions, the system 
doesn't tell how many anglers are out 
there, who they are or where they fish. 
All three states exempt anglers under 
16 and over 65. Florida exempts fish- 
ermen on a licensed pier or vessel. 
Virginia licenses Chesapeake Bay 
anglers and exempts ocean fishermen. 
South Carolina exempts shore-based 
fishermen. The problem might be 
remedied, however, by licensing all 
saltwater fishermen and charging only 
select groups. 

To the criticism that the license 
would be expensive to implement and 
enforce, supporters say profits can be 
used to beef up law enforcement. Still, 
this could be difficult. In Virginia, an 
angler can say he was fishing in the 
ocean if he's questioned about his li- 
cense. And North Carolina is already 
pinched with 47 Division of Marine 
Fisheries officers patrolling its 2.5 mil- 
lion acres of water. 

Overall, it's important for the pub- 
lic to understand the costs and benefits 
of a saltwater license from the outset. 
And the process should involve every- 
one: fishermen, business and tourism, 
piers and charter boat operators. The 
saltwater license and other recreational 
fishing issues were discussed by panel- 
ists and an audience of anglers, scien- 
tists, policy- makers and businesspeople 
at the 1993 N.C. Marine Recreational 
Fishing Forum. This dialogue has been 
compiled into a booklet that can be 
ordered through Sea Grant. Write 
N.C. Sea Grant, Box 8605, N.C. State 
University, Raleigh, NC 27695, and 
ask for UNC-SG-93-06. Enclose a 
check or money order for $3.50. 




N.C. Sea Grant's latest video, 
Undersea Oases: The Science of 
Hardbottoms, plunges viewers to the 
continental shelf between North 
Carolina and Florida for a view of 
the perplexing rocky outcrops called 

Surrounded by sand flats, the 
crumbling ledges of these rocky 
cliffs are topped by algal meadows 
that attract a surprisingly abundant 
array of marine life. In fact, the 
amount of life along these hard- 
bottoms is more abundant than on 
other parts of the continental shelf. 

Using submersibles and remote 
sensing devices, scientists explore, 
map and analyze hardbottom habitats 
on video before your very eyes. They 
are striving to unravel questions of 
geologic origin, diversity, nutrient 
chemistry and productivity. 

Through footage taken from 
submersibles and by SCUBA divers, 
scientists guide viewers through the 
hardbottom ecosystem and their on- 
going research. 

Undersea Oases is ideal for 
junior and senior high school earth 
and marine science classes and for 
undergraduate geology and oceanog- 
raphy courses. It can also add an 
educational splash to meetings of 
dive clubs, commercial fishing 
associations, recreational fishing 
groups and conservation organiza- 
tions. An enclosed brochure lists 
organisms that appear in the video, 
scientists, equipment and suggested 
further reading. 

Lundie Spence, Sea Grant's 
marine education specialist, wrote 
and produced the video. And 
featured in the footage are N.C. Sea 
Grant researchers Stan Riggs, Martin 
Posey, Scott Snyder, Will Ambrose 
and Steve Snyder. 

To buy a copy of Undersea Oa- 
ses, contact Environmental Media at 
800/368-3382 between 9 a.m. and 5 
p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. 
The cost for the 15-minute video is 
$19.95. Or fax your order to 919/ 
942-8785. Environmental Media 
accepts Visa and Mastercard. 

Whom Do You Call? 

It's every vessel owner's night- 
mare. The engine on your boat dies, 
and you and your crew are adrift 
offshore in a storm. 

What should you do? 

Issue a marine distress call on 
your radio or radiotelephone. 

What do you say? 

You follow the procedure out- 
lined in N.C. Sea Grant's new ma- 
rine distress communications sticker. 

The form provides 14 steps you 
should follow when making a marine 
distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard 
or another vessel. The form helps 
provide vital information that could 
be easily overlooked in a stressful 
emergency situation. It's information 
that could mean the difference be- 
tween life and death for you, your 
family or crew. 

The 9 by 4 1/2-inch form is a 
peel-off sticker that can be applied to 
any hard surface near your boat radio. 

Who should get a marine distress 
communications sticker? 

Anyone who spends time on 
the water — commercial fishermen, 
recreational fishermen, boaters, sail- 
ors and charter boat and dive boat 

How do you get one? 

Single stickers are free for the 
asking. Just write Sea Grant, and ask 
for UNC-SG-93-04. 

The marine distress communica- 
tions sticker is a joint effort of the 
Maine/New Hampshire and N.C. 
Sea Grant College programs. 

Crisis Preparedness for 
the Seafood Industry 

No industry is free from crisis. 
Experts contend that every business, 
at some time, will experience a crisis. 

And seafood processors and re- 
tailers like other food handlers may be 
particularly susceptible. Consumer 
uneasiness about food and drug safety 
is at an all-time high. 

What would a processor do if 
confronted with an outbreak of food 
poisoning or forced by the U.S. Food 
and Drug Administration to recall 
contaminated product? Unless a crisis 
plan is in place, the processor may be 
left floundering. 

To help seafood processors and 
retailers plan for these unpleasant 
situations, Sea Grant Seafood Tech- 
nology Specialist David Green has 
developed a Blueprint, Managing in 
a Crisis: Being Prepared. 

It offers steps for developing a 
crisis plan, guidelines for handling the 
media and a sample product recall 

To receive a free copy of this 
Blueprint, write Sea Grant. Ask for 



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